Police Under Cover


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It appears as though nothing in this State is immune to the modern need for rebranding, even where there appears to be neither want nor need.

The new Swat-style uniform being worn by members of An Garda Síochána on the streets of Dublin last week now (above) no longer carries just the word “Garda” but also “Police”. Is this an image-enhancing marketing ploy?

Whatever next?

Trevor Tory,
Baile Átha Buí,­
Co na Mí.

Garda branding (Irish Times letters page)

Pics: TV3

55 thoughts on “Police Under Cover

    1. Robert

      It’s not really translation though, is it. An Garda Siochana literally means “the Guardian of the Peace” – but sure you’re welcome to take whatever sort of revisionist slant you want on it.

      1. Bobby

        They’re the police force. People not from Ireland may not know what Garda or Guardian of the Peace means, so having Police on the clothes is easier to understand without use of a Irish/English dictionary. But of course, you knew that and were just being pedantic.

        1. classter

          There is absolutely no need to put the word ‘police’ on Garda uniforms.

          The style & colouring should make it obvious.

          Would you recognise a French Gendarme or would the absence of the word police confuse you?

          Anyway, the word Guard or translations of such are used by many police forces – such as the Guardia Civil or Guardia Urbana in Spain.

        2. Cromuel

          How handy that Paris has “Underground” on all its metro stations instead of Metropolitain, so we foreigners can understand.

        3. classter

          Bobby – the Gendarme uniform typically does not.

          In France there is the ‘Police Nationale’ and the ‘Gendarmerie Nationale’, which are two separate bodies entirely.

          1. classter

            You are (deliberately or otherwise) missing the point.

            We have no duty to copy the French approach in its entirety.

            The point is that you would have no difficulty recognising a gendarme, or a Russian cop (I don;t know how to write the Cyrillic alphabet), or a Spanish Guardia, Italian Carabinieri etc.

            If we are to be embarrased about the slightest aspect of life which is mildly unique to Ireland, perhaps you could provide some verificable anecdotes (not even statistics) of the problem the term Garda has EVER caused?

      2. Owen

        Roberts clearly a cop everyone. Careful what you say on here. And ‘Bobby’ is a questionable name too…..

      3. St. John Smythe

        actually, translation does not always mean transliteration

        For example, (since I speak the language): you don’t translate the German ‘Aufwiedersehen’ into the literal English ‘Until-next-seeing’, rather into what its relative and commonly understood meaning in English: ‘Goodbye’.

        Turning it around: any German journalist would translate ‘Gardai’ to ‘Polizei’ and not to ‘Wächter’ (lit: guardian).. (in practice they often write both, to give local flavour: “die von der irischen Polizei (An Garda Síochána) mit Unterstützung der Europäischen… “)

  1. meadowlark

    I would have presumed it was for those people who don’t know that ‘garda’ is Irish for ‘police’.


  2. Malta

    Perhaps it’s a statement that “Police” (or variants) is a fairly universally recognized word and Garda is not.

  3. A Taxpayer

    If you’re going to shoot someone in the face it’s a common courtesy to identify yourself as a lawman.

  4. Rompsky

    The French swat teams had police on theirs too, internationally recognised… and not worthy of a broadsheet post

  5. ahjayzis

    Trevor from ATHBOY, County MEATH needs to get the F out more.

    Its not rebranding, it’s rendering their function in the other official language of the state.

    You know, the one we all actually can fupping speak.

    Calling the Seanad the Senate isn’t rebranding.

      1. ahjayzis

        What they are is a police force though. It makes sense to say that in English.

        The Met in London have police on their uniforms so people visiting know they’re police, not some gang of paramilitaries named after the city in Superman.

        1. classter

          Is there really an idea that we cannot rely on anything Irish in case a foreigner has absolutely no cop on or no ability to understand context whatsoever?

          Do you expect the same rules to be enforced everywhere you go?

          1. ahjayzis

            Bosca Bruscars are one thing – the police is something we can be a little more international about. It’s not like it’s even a direct translation like Policia or Polizei, it’s Guardian – foreigners could very well think they’re private security.

            Here’s a Japanese police car;


            STOP signs are STOP signs in German and French – and these countries actually speak their first language.

          2. classter

            It is a bit different when you are otherwise using a completely different alphabet & also a different graphical style. Neither imitations exist for us.

      2. ahjayzis

        It’s like referring to the Dail as parliament.

        It’s called the Dail, in English it’s probably Assembly – but what its called doesn’t change the fact that it’s our parliament

        Garda / Guardian – it’s our police / poilini

        1. Bobby

          That said, it would be cool for them to be called The Guardians Of Peace. It’d be like having our own superhero team. Or possibly super villain, depending on your view.

        2. Slightly Bemused

          It is the Oireachtas that is the parliament. TYypically the Dáil is translated as House of Representatives, and the Seanad as, well, Senate.

          While I agree that police would be póilíní, the real issue here I think is that there should be no confusion as to the legitimacy of the officers. To the best of my knowledge, the ‘Police’ branding appears only on the uniforms of the armed response units, and in that case, not being certain that it is a legitimate police force could have fatal consequences.

          1. ahjayzis

            Yeah but you know what I’m saying, we can label it in Irish as though it’s an Irish invention but the institution is a bicameral Westminster-style parliament. House of Commons is interchangeable with parliament, so’s the Dail.

  6. Markus

    It is so people are left in no uncertain terms who the balaclava wearing, gun wielding person who just kicked down their door is.

  7. Joe835

    I noticed that immediately last week alright, the first time the word “Police” has ever been used to describe our police force to the public like that.

    Only the Gardaí aren’t really just police, are they? As many have pointed out already, the words Garda Síochána mean “Guardians of the Peace” or “Civil Guard”. And as that name suggests, their role is beyond policing.

    Don’t get me wrong; most of what they do is policing. But the Gardaí also oversee intelligence, they’re our MI5 to a large extent. They also carry out speed checks and motorway law enforcement, often delegated to other forces in other countries. They do close protection, armed response, highway patrol and pretty much everything that involves law enforcement here.

    Maybe the Gardaí do need a rebrand; have day-to-day stuff carried out by a local police force referred to as police with the Garda Síochána remaining the overarching organisation to which they’d answer. And have everything else as an offshoot of that main “brand” rather than pretend one organisation is enough to do it all.

    Separating policing activity from intelligence would also allow the taboo of non-Garda personnel being drafted in from overseas to be broken; we could have done with a fresh new face in the top job recently but they just couldn’t do it – but then what country would put a foreigner in charge of their domestic intelligence service?

        1. Slightly Bemused

          Sadly I knew that, and not from Wikipedia. Tóraíocht Dhiarmada agus Gráinne will haunt me until I die…

          Actually a cool story, just the endless questions and essays for the Leaving – argh!

  8. Owen

    Lads, its obvious that all the uniforms were stolen and used in gangland violence. They had to replace 100s of them and its just cheaper to have the standard ‘Police’ on the uniforms.

    In the words of our faithful leader…… ‘You’re all whingers’.

  9. Termagant

    To guard means to protect. To police means to control. It’s a pretty drastic semantic shift. Time and time again in science fiction the blurring of this line has resulted in the subjugation of mankind by rogue AIs. We can’t be too careful.

    1. classter

      I know you’re taking the wee-wee and I’m being annoyingly earnest, but I do agree with the importance of this semantic shift.

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