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Dublin: 14 °C Sunday 18 August, 2019

Some politicians are trying to destroy relations between the Gardai and the community

I was one of the councillors prevented from leaving a meeting in Fingal by protesters; the politicians involved in organising it have exposed their anti-Garda agenda.

Ted Leddy

ON MONDAY, I was one of the councillors who was prevented from driving home after a meeting of Fingal County Council in Swords because of a protest taking place at the entrance to the car park. It was, in truth, a relatively minor incident and I am not going to play it up.

However, it became clear to me that the objective of the protest was to provoke a reaction from Gardaí that would lead to a wider, more newsworthy incident. Make no mistake, to prevent people from leaving their workplace is a provocation and the Gardaí would have been within their rights to remove the small number of protesters.

I am glad the Gardaí decided against such a course of action as it, inevitably, would have led to scuffles and claims of Garda thuggery and ‘political policing’. Instead the Gardaí, councillors and council staff largely ignored the protesters and the demonstration fizzled out, much to the irritation of the one or two far-left councillors who supported the demonstration and were clearly wishing for a different outcome.

An attempt to paint the Gardai as ‘the enemy’

The tactics of the protesters and the behaviour of the councillors who were backing them up, in combination with other events this week, has led me to one inescapable conclusion about the trajectory of far-left politics in Ireland.

There is now a very deliberate, premeditated and well-organised strategy in place by some politicians to destroy relations between the Gardai and the community, particularly in disadvantaged areas.

The ultimate objective of this campaign is to undermine trust and confidence in the force and to promote animosity to such an extent that the police are seen as the enemy of the working class. All political representatives, whether on the left or the right who care about their communities know that a good relationship between the Gardaí and the public is essential.

Most crimes in this country are committed against working class people in working class areas. People in disadvantaged areas need the Gardaí more than anyone else. However some politicians on the hard left of Irish politics care much more about their own ideology than they do the welfare and safety of their constituents and are prepared to actively work toward destroying that relationship.

We need to promote trust and cooperation

As a member of the Blanchardstown Drugs Task Force I am very aware of the absolute hell that can be inflicted on communities by criminals who intimidate families over drug debts. Communities affected by this living nightmare need the mutual cooperation and trust of the Gardaí who are desperately trying to combat it.

Only this Wednesday after a meticulously planned sting operation the Gardaí raided a major criminal gang in Clondalkin seizing five firearms and over €5 million worth of heroin. These drugs were destined for the veins of vulnerable addicts in poorer communities.

On the front line of the minority protests, not to be confused with the larger protests in which protesters behave impeccably, it is common place to hear vile insults hurled at Gardaí, such as “fascists”, “Nazi”, “scum”, “child abusers”, “black n tans”, “corporate thugs”, and worse.

Some even spit and kick the shins of Gardaí, all of which is an attempt to provoke a reaction that can be filmed so that the Gardaí can be portrayed as brutes. I would call on all political representatives to disassociate themselves from and discourage this type of behaviour toward the Gardaí.

Gardaí should not be immune from criticism – but it should be valid

This issue need not divide the mainstream parties from those on the left as it is clear that there are many individuals in the Sinn Fein party, People Before Profit, and even the Socialist Party who care deeply about safety issues and are uncomfortable with the Garda bashing that has become so common.

Nor does it mean the Gardaí should be immune from criticism or intense monitoring and I, for one, am very pleased that the current government introduced legislation to protect whistleblowers.

But when one invokes “police brutality”, and “political policing” at every available opportunity, it becomes quite meaningless and clearly exposes an anti-Garda agenda. It is time for all politicians to state clearly whether they stand behind the Garda or are part of this ugly campaign to destroy the reputation of the force and their ability to effectively police all our communities.

Ted Leddy is a Fine Gael councillor in Castleknock and current deputy mayor of Fingal County Council

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Ted Leddy

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