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Summary of the Peoples' Forum - Who Polices the Police?
crime and justice |
Thursday December 05, 2013 01:09 by C - RSC
Last Saturday week (23rd Nov) in Inver Community Hall, the 2013 Peoples' Forum was held entitled "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? - Who Polices the Police?.
The speakers at the event were Clare Daly TD and Mick Wallace TD, who spoke about the recent penalty points controversy and efforts to reform policing accountability. While Hilary D'Arcy who is doing a doctorate in policing focusing on Corrib spoke on policy accountability and politicisation of the police force and argued that increases in police accountability mainly arise from pressure from social movements. The days events were chaired by Sue Gogan
A full report is due to be written up in due course so this is just supposed to be a brief summary.
Maura Harrington gave a brief introduction to the events including saying that she believed the policing of Corrib to be used as the template for the State dealing with communities in future campaigns such as fracking or wind turbines.
Hilary D'Arcy then gave an interesting talk starting with the history of policy accountability and when it began to become an issue in different countries and why. She argued that one of the main reason for increased calls for police accountability was from social power which in turn levered political power to be seen to increase police oversight. In dealing with Corrib particularly she noted that the Garda budget that has been used on Corrib was for some years in the same region as Operation Anvil (which targetted gangland crime). Ms D'Arcy also gave a brief history of the politicisation of the Gardaí. She also highlighted the two somewhat different roles or personas that the Gardaí have, in that they are attempting to act in the interest of the public and the interest of the powerful at the same time.
Clare Daly was the next to speak. She told the forum that actually there was a Shell to Sea link with the penalty points story being broken, as the Garda whistleblower ended up contacting Clare Daly after he saw her on Tonight with Vincent Browne when she was speakingin relation to the Garda Rape-tape story. Ms Daly said that the Garda whistleblower brought a lot of information and some of which was far more serious than the penalty points issue. Some of the examples given were of racial profiling and Traveller children as young as 16 days being put on Pulse. However they focused on the penaly points issue as it was one where there was volumes of undeniable proof. Ms Daly said that it was never there intention for this penalty points issue to focus on individual people or to question individual Garda discretion rather it was about the systematic practice of allowing privileged people to wipe the points clear. Ms Daly gave examples of at least 3 if not 5 Judges getting their points wiped, or the family that had 8 tickets cleared or the other family that had claimed 5 medical emergencies in one month. Ms Daly said that this episode called the whole justice system into question.
Ms Daly also spoke about the bravery of the two Garda whistleblowers and the subsequent harrasments and threats that these Gardaí have faced because of breaking the Garda wall of silence. She told of how one of the Gardaí was told in a GRA meeting that he was attending that “This fella should be taken out”. She also emphasised that this attitude was also coming from Garda superiors that nobody should break Garda ranks. Ms Daly stated that there was no Garda accountability and that GSOC had their hands tied.
Mick Wallaces talk seemed to suggest a big eyeopening experience for Mr Wallace since he began dealing with Garda issue and he stated that he “didn't suspect things were as bad as they were”. He also spoke about being dumbstruck at the way they hadn't been allowed to raise these matters in the Parliment and were only able to raise the issue by breaking the rules and saying they were going to talk about other issues. He also spoke about how the media had no real interest in tackling the case and would only touch on the extremites of the issues. He said that it showed him that the Gardaí are currently above the law and are not accountable to the law. Mr Wallace spoke emotianally about how they had held meeting in the Red Cow Inn to which people travelled from all over the country to speak about abuse they had suffered at the hands of the Gardaí. He said that these issues had deeply affected some of the people he'd met and it had taken over there lives when they had been unable to get the truth.
After some lunch the group reassembled for some discussion and many topics regarding policing and Corrib in general were discussed. The most contentious issue of the day seem to be on what should be done with GSOC. While everyone seemed to agree that GSOC was currently failing to hold the police to account, some argued that could be reformed to make it useful, however others felt that it has become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.