Expecting unarmed Gardaí to confront armed thugs is unreasonable From Irish Independent 30th. May 2019
THERE was as much pride and pomp as decency would allow in 1922, when Commissioner Michael Staines led his new Force though the gates of Dublin Castle, the seat of British power in Ireland.
Only five days after this historic transfer, the man responsible for the creation of that unarmed Civic Guard, Michael Collins, was shot dead.
An Garda Síochána was formed one year later. No matter what level of threat to the State – and there have been several, both subversive and criminal – the tradition of remaining unarmed held firm. It is something that as a society, we set great store by.
But there are plenty who seek to take advantage of the fact rank and file Gardaí do not carry firearms. They must learn, as others have done to their cost in the past, that our State has an iron fist to use when required, behind the velvet glove.
Yesterday’s appeal from Gardaí for 24-hour armed units to be set up in all 28 Garda divisions to deal with the upsurge in armed crime must be taken seriously.
Ruthless drug gangs once only preyed on our biggest cities. Today, their sinister trade is plied in every major town and village in the country, leaving a trail of ruined lives.
Surely rural communities have as much right to protection as urban ones? Scenes such as those in recent days in Drogheda, where the feuding is spiralling towards serious loss of life, have to be reined in.
Gunmen randomly opening fire in the street is not something any town should have to endure.
People prepared to kill for profit must not get to determine the price of a life.
Their careful cultivation of vendettas – which are paid for in other people’s blood – has to be curtailed.
If, as has been argued, crime is born in the gap between the morality of society and that of the individual, closing that gap requires urgent attention.
Increasingly reckless and rapacious gangs grow ever more desperate to increase their riches.
Expecting unarmed Gardaí to confront such thugs with their automatic weapons, and no concern for where their bullets fly, is unreasonable.
Expertly trained armed units must be on call to confront what is a 24-hour threat.
Crime, unfortunately, is a most consistent part of our historic experience; as its face changes, so too must our response.
For feuding gangs, revenge never evens the score. The bloody chain-reaction will go on until there is an equal and opposite show of strength from the State to snuff it out.
We learned this lesson the hard way in Limerick a decade ago. So we know what needs to be done.
To date, some 88 members of the Force have been killed serving on duty.
That number cannot be added to because we have not provided adequate cover or resources to protect the very people we turn to in order to protect ourselves.