SO IS THIS POLITICAL POLICING?

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By Kieran McCarthy 

A report in one of today’s newspapers revealed a new Garda Task Force has been established to police and assist with the installation of water meters in Cork. We were told this new force will include twenty gardai, four sergeants and one inspector.

Why?

Well the report suggested this new task force will be deployed to ensure the installation of water meters by Irish Water will proceed peacefully.

Now at a time when burglaries and crimes against property and physical assaults against the person in the Cork area are at an all-time high, why would these much needed Garda resources be removed from where they are needed and deployed instead to assist in the forced installation of a product where they are not wanted?

Surely the Garda Siochana are meant to serve the State – The citizens, not the narrow political interests of the few. Furthermore, the Garda Siochana (guardians of the peace) were first established to protect the citizens of the state. It was not established or ever intended to be hired muscle to impose someone else’s will upon the population. No, we were always led to believe that only state police forces in the old soviet block satellites of Eastern Europe engaged in such practices.

We all know that citizens of this state who made a decision a long time ago to resist water charges and by extension the installation of water meters outside their houses, have always acted peacefully, as is their democratic right. We also know that in more than a few cases, Irish Water workers/contractor deployed to install the unwanted meters have not played by the same peaceful and democratic rules.

In Cobh for example, where mass opposition to the installation of water meters, saw Irish Water throw in the towel as they realised there were flogging a dead horse and left the town close to a year ago. The reason why IW and their contractors ‘Murphys’ knew they were beat in Cobh, was because the will of the local population was overwhelming, it was peaceful, it was democratic, but above all it was witnessed and overseen by the local Gardai who recognised it for what it was.

We know that protests elsewhere in Cork and around this state, have been peaceful and democratic too, its just that the response and direction from the Gardai in other areas hasn’t been so balanced, fair and democratic, in fact it is very clear to whoever wants to see that in many of those instances, the Gardai had been acting under political direction.

Today’s newspaper report, referred to continued opposition to Irish Water in Cobh and other parts of East Cork and in other Garda Divisions. It would seem from the report, that someone is giving us a hint that Cobh might expect to witness a similar blitzkrieg invasion of the Great Island by Irish Water in the not too distant future, and this Normandy style invasion will be supported in the main and spearheaded by the new Garda Task Force.

But perhaps Irish Water might learn that this island nation of Cobh wont be so easy to conquer and the mass of the people here will meet them on the beaches and will drive them back off our streets. Maybe Irish Water will discover that Cobh will be their Dunkirk and they will for second time find themselves retreating back over Bevelly Bridge and back to their Bunkers.

Not only do the people of Cobh and this state not deserve to be treated to such an unwelcome vista, but surely the Garda Siochana as a police force has got some self examining to do and questions to answer. If it really must get involved where its not wanted or needed by the citizens of the state, then it should at the very least, do what it says it intends to do and ensure the engagement between Irish Water workers and protesters proceeds peacefully.

If that is to be the case, then one of two things will first have to happen. Irish Water employees will have to disengage from where they are not wanted, or if they don’t, and try to force their will upon people physically, the Gardai will have to intervene and arrest them for breaking the peace.

What the Gardai cannot do, and still pretend to be policing impartially and in the interest of protecting the peace, is to arrive in force into housing estates while escorting Irish Water vans behind them and acting like hired bullies and enforcers.

If history has taught us anything, its that political policing – be it in the north of this country during the recent past conflict there, or in the old Apartheid regime of South Africa, or in any of the old Eastern European Block states of the 1980’s, is that they are self defeating and sooner or later implode to the pressure of public opposition.

Is the battle to impose the will of Irish Water and its political allies on the Irish People really worth it?