*Photograph: John Mangan
MEASURES to protect Gardaí on duty need to be fast-tracked amid a horrendous level of abuse aimed in their direction.
Australia, Britain and Canada have issued travel warnings for persons visiting Ireland following riots in Dublin on Thursday last.
After five people were injured including three young children in a cruel stabbing outside a primary school in Dublin city centre, chaos descended on the capital with protesters letting off flares and fireworks in the direction of An Garda Síochána members.
A Garda car and two double-decker buses were set on fire while a blaze broke out inside a damaged Luas tram. Gardaí were targeted by violent mobs.
At Monday’s meeting of the Clare Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) referenced a video which went viral on TikTok where a North Clare Garda was subjected to “horrid abuse”.
The Clare Echo understands that a call was made to An Garda Síochána in the wake of a recent Kilnaboy tragedy where boy-racers kept coming down to Lemenagh Castle at a very sensitive time in the locality.
Following this report, persons involved in the racing videoed a torrent of abuse that they issued to a Clare Garda, the footage of this has been shared widely on social media.
“People mentioned the horrid scenes in Dublin and the abuse that Gardaí got but a video has been floating around in recent days near Lemenagh Castle and more abuse of Gardaí. The abuse he got that night was horrid so not alone is it happening in the capital but all across the country and the county. I feel An Garda Síochána are fighting a losing battle, it is no disrespect to them but it is the way they are managed at a top level,” Cllr O’Callaghan stated.
He continued, “All these incidents are occurring because they feel they can get away with it, there is no respect, something tragic went on in that area prior to that video and An Garda Síochána came out to try show some respect in the area”.
Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF) is confident a fast-tracking of measures to see Gardaí bodycams will be introduced in the wake of the Dublin riots. “I am friends with a lot of Gardaí and I have tried my best over the last three years to represent them on various issues. It is a job that is becoming more difficult, young people leaving school today might view it as a last career choice and their parents may not encourage them to follow that path given the current scenes and that is not what we want because we need our best and brightest entering An Garda Síochána”.
Deputy Crowe continued, “Gardaí need to be able to protect themselves and their communities with reasonable force when required and not face the full rigours of GSOC if they do so, I don’t think thugs should be able to act with impunity. Body cams have been in Britain for over a decade, they have been used successfully week in week out in court cases. We really need to shake ourselves up, we’ve become soft on law and order and we’ve allowed criminality to grow”.
Growing disrespect to Gardaí is “very concerning,” Clare TD Violet-Anne Wynne (IND) believed. She said of the recent incident in North Clare, “Any indication of disrespect for people in those positions is concerning in light of the situation we saw unfold on Thursday night which rocked us all to the core, it shocked us that an incident like this could happen. It is concerning that there is a rise of that sentiment of anger and even those vulnerable people in society being targeted”.
Use of bodycams by Gardaí is “long overdue” according to Cllr Mary Howard (FG). “The level of abuse that we’ve seen Gardaí get in our county and in Dublin last week is appalling. It is an honourable profession and the vast majority of Gardaí are amazing people, they are doing a wonderful job and don’t deserve that level of abuse”.
She said recent scenes targeting Gardaí on their own has been “appalling and dreadful”. Howard added, “The one that struck me was the Garda on his own in Dublin, he was surrounded going backwards on his own by a shower of thugs, I found it too disturbing and that these were Irish people that thought this was okay. You can’t go out and behave like that”.
Having gone from attending the turning on of the Christmas lights in Ennis to watching the scenes in Ennis, Cllr Howard admitted to receiving “an awful fright”. She told The Clare Echo, “It was a safe family event where everyone was in super form, Santa was there, then we went home and put on our televisions to discover our world was completely different. We see these images from South America or Paris, we don’t expect that to happen in Dublin, anyone watching it got an awful fright and said oh my God what is happening to our country”.