HARDY LESSON FOR NEW BOSS DREW
ONE thing is certain – after the way the gardaí handled the eviction of anti-homelessness protesters in Dublin this week – the hardy boys have been let loose, leaving us with a few Drew mysteries.
What are we to make of Robocop gardaí, faces covered in flame-retardant balaclavas? Is this the emerging personality of our police under their new boss Drew Harris? The former top Northern policeman was pitch perfect as he took up the reins of office as Garda Commissioner – that midnight swearing-in, the manifest confidence he displayed in the decision to take a press conference on his own and his express determination to serve and protect through a model of policing based on trust.
However, after the events in North Frederick Street on Tuesday one has to wonder if all that has been for nothing. The eviction scene, after a court order, was like something from a street protest in Moscow. The imagery was scary.
The Garda’s own Mission Statement promises policing ‘with the trust, confidence and support of the people we serve’. For all their faults, the gardaí have always been ‘ours’ – our sons and daughters, cousins, neighbours and friends. We’ve always known who they were. They’ve never needed to hide behind balaclavas when it came to run-of-themill policing. The events of this week have further damaged public trust in the force at a time when it’s already in accident and emergency.
Drew Harris needs to get a handle on this. He needs to return the gardaí to old-fashioned community-based, normal uniform policing in double-quick time. And he needs to avoid, like the plague, the tendency towards more paramilitarystyle displays we witnessed this week.
public order: Gardaí and protestors at North Frederick Street, Dublin, on Tuesday