It’s Pure True – Words from Cormac MacConnell.

Cormac MacConnell, writing in the Farming Supplement, Irish Examiner reminds us – If you are living in a country parish in 2016 which is still covered by a manned Garda station down the road, rather than by remotely controlled patrol cars, I would argue that you should consider yourself very fortunate.

In an era when so many of the smaller stations have closed down for allegedly economic reasons, the cost to the countryside has been far higher than is ever fully quantified by anybody.

What was lost to the community was far more than just a locally based policing operation.  And that is for sure.

If it was a typical Sergeant-and-Two station, there was and is, far more involved than the law.  I am aware of many cases over the years where for example, the children of the local gardai made all the difference between a local school being closed or a two teacher school having sufficient numbers on the roll-book to retain a second teacher.

The gardai who were resident were also normally heavily involved in their communities, in many positive ways. The GAA club often reaped  the benefits of a good new mid-fielder in a bleak championship year.  I once covered a club game where the local sergeant (and his good wife of course) had provided no less than four of the forwards who won the game for the parish.

The benefits spread right across the communities.  Local shops had extra customers. Voluntary organisations had extra energetic leaders.  The policeman was always a policeman, of course, so young bloods that were likely to go astray further down the road of life were spotted early and given discreet warnings which normally worked, and kept them out of the courts.

When major incidents occurred in the local jurisdiction the local gardai, known by the people of the parish, were always kept well clued in.  Speeding cars don’t pick up that kind of local knowledge, and the countryside is much the poorer for that.

The crime statistics prove that, every week.

I knew several of the veterans long ago who, because they had served their country well in their youth, were allowed to serve past the normal retiring age.

The country folk said they had the Miraculous Medal !  Like those that came after them, those decent men might not have had the pure academic qualifications of the modern gardai, but they were blessed with an amalgam of commonsense, compassion and understanding, which served both them and their communities perfectly.

If I have any small query about those that serve us today, it is perhaps that higher Templemore qualifications maybe erode that fundamental commonsense just a bit.  But we live in a different Ireland now.  The work of our police force has become infinitely more dangerous and challenging.  The Dublin inner-city gangster war underscores that reality. I met the legendary “Lugs” Brannigan who controlled the streets of Dublin many years ago, and I think that formidable old garda warrior would probably have  that mess sorted out by now, had it happened in his day.  But then he would have been accused of infringing the civil rights of thugs, I suppose, if he had operated in his very positive and direct way.

Finally, in a nutshell, I am trying to serve today as a kind of whistle-blower to let the gardai, especially those working in rural areas, be aware that not everyone supports the ongoing reductive campaign against them.  (Cormac MacConnell)

 

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2 Responses to It’s Pure True – Words from Cormac MacConnell.

  1. patrick joseph mc June 3, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

    It is from the past, but very much to the point, It went past the parish team, just look at the number of members sons that won All Ireland medals and the members that won with their adopted homes, One Club won the club championship with the majority of the the team consisting of members sons and members .Members went where they were sent miles from home with no prospect of getting next or near home for a considerable number of years .Off or on duty as the Judge Conroy writing in his commission they were Gardai people that were special to society as they exercised discretion in performing their duty. Prevention was the priority as described in the article but the media only glorify detection and never value the mundane unseen work of prevention

  2. John Brennan June 4, 2016 at 10:37 am #

    Cormac McConnell is pointing out the benefits of local policing which has been stated to politicians and Garda authoriities for years by Garda representatives and local communities. Needless to say such advice has been ignored by those in charge of finance who cannot see beyond the balance sheet. The unseen preventative work and indeed social work done in small villages by the local Garda cannot be listed on a profit and loss account..
    Cormac as well as his brothers Mickey and the much missed late Sean has been involved in local and national journalism all his working life. Coming from a rural part of County Fermanagh the O Connells have made a significant contribution to journalism and any article under the O Connell name was always worth reading whether you agreed or disagreed with the opinions published.

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