“We Need To Just Park Human Rights”

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From top: Gardai in Dublin city centre yesterday: John O’Keefe, editor of The Garda Review and former spokesman of the Garda Representatives Association (GRA), speaking to RTÉ’s Paul Reynolds about fake Garda breath test figures in 2017

This morning.

On RTÉ Radio One, criminologist and editor of the Garda Review John O’Keeffe joined host Brendan O’Connor and other panelists to discuss the latest movement restrictions announced by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last Friday evening.

The other panelists were associate professor of economics at University of Limerick  Stephen Kinsella; former Fine Gael TD and pharmacist Kate O’Connell; emergency and disaster medicine specialist Dr Mick Molloy; Europe Correspondent at Euronews Shona Murray; and sociologist Niamh Hourigan.

During the discussion, Mr O’Keeffe called for humans rights to be “parked”, an idea to which Stephen Kinsella, who also writes for The Currency, objected.

Mr O’Keeffe went on to repeat his call for human rights to be parked and added that they should become “an adjunct issue until such time as we save our population”.

From the discussion:

Brendan O’Connor: “So obviously law and order is on our minds. Last week, 319 recruits effectively graduated early out of Templemore. Lot of those guards now on the streets and a lot of other guards on the street. And also I think in a sense that cohesion holding so far, people kind of worried a little bit about what all this means for crime. So John, I suppose, some people think this is going to lead to some kind of breakdown in law and order and that there’ll be a crime wave. Other people kind of thinking there’s no going to be no crime now because we’re all at home. What’s your thinking?”

John O’Keeffe: “Yeah, they’re probably both right. I mean, typically, crime, it drops during things such as pandemics. For example, 95 per cent of all public order offences are driven by alcohol and/or drugs. And assuming Brendan that nobody has got a mental health illness, there’s nobody going to be charging up O’Connell Street tonight after drinking six cans of Lilt, trying to have a fight with a member of An Garda Síochána.

“So it’s just not going to happen. If no clubs, pubs or restaurants are open, those pressure points fade. Many other offences, of course, are also driven by alcohol and drugs such as violence, violence sexual and indeed theft offences.

“And of course, as regards self defence as well, nothing is open any more. It’s difficult to rob from a shop when it isn’t open. Of course it is possible but all those ordinary, decent offences, if we can call them that, will certainly, I think, probably lessen.

“I mean there is a Dunkirk spirit I think, when it comes to flattening crime levels. In criminology, Niamh will know all about this, is a theory called strain theory which suggests that certain of us commit crime simply because of the strain that society puts on us. You know, we can’t earn the big money, we can’t have the cars, we can’t have the holidays and then we’re pushed out into crime. But strain theory arguably doesn’t work as well during times like we have at the moment where the subcultures…”

O’Connor: “We are all equal?”

O’Keeffe: “Well, exactly my point, that the subcultures of the normative class we’ll call them, with big inverted commas, and the subculture of the criminal classes. The lines are now more blurred and, in fact, we’re all, in one sense, moving together. I mean I do mean this in the most generic sense and we’ve all got the same goal. And the same goal is one word which is survival.

“I mean it’s very simple and although people think that criminals have this notion that, ‘well it doesn’t matter what I do’, they’re fatalistic and there is good research to suggest that, actually, when you think about it, all everybody wants to do is to be alive. Like you can cut it any way you want but that’s what we all want. So that’s common amongst us all now.”

O’Connor: “Ok, now there is drinking going on in the home and we do know that drinking in the home can lead to domestic situations. Are we seeing any kind of rise in complaints about that?”

O’Keeffe: “Yes. France and Australia, they both reported a spike in domestic violence during the Covid-19 outbreak. And there’s been an increase, I have this from a senior source in An Garda Síochána, there’s been an increase already. Now this has been since the 14th of March, right? So we’re talking about the last two weeks, to yesterday, for the exact same period last year where, obviously, there was no lockdown.

“I’ve been advised that there has been a ten per cent increase in what are called domestic incidents that are notified to gardai where no offence was disclosed. So, in other words, call outs. They’ve gone up ten per cent. Remind ourselves of course that it wasn’t until Friday night that [Taoiseach] Leo Varadkar gave us, put us almost into virtual, full lockdown. So it wouldn’t be unusual to assume that, in the next two weeks, we may see that figure rising also.”

O’Connor: “In terms of the policing system, the criminal justice system. Obviously, there’s a lot of stuff already in train. The courts, I think, finished out cases that were happening and then, kind of, have now effectively shut as the cases finish. What’s the situation there?”

O’Keeffe: “Yeah, to an extent. The courts service, they’ve, as you say, a range of measures including relaxing bail requirements and increasing use of video link, you know, to improve social distancing rules. Cloverhill District Court have increased the volume of video links to Cloverhill Prison.

“Solicitors are also being notified which they weren’t necessarily before about trial dates, via email, and each case is going to be dealt with separately. So they are…”

O’Connor: “So trials will still continue?”

O’Keeffe: “They will still continue but slowly. And one of the things that will arguably will suffer is sentencing. I have it on fairly good authority that some 250 prisoners from Mountjoy Prison, from the male wing, have been released early.

“And police in north inner city Dublin are telling me this is already starting to cause some chaos. Now this is anecdotal but 250 is a…”

O’Connor: “Is there a health warning on that, yeah?”

O’Keeffe: “Absolutely but nonetheless, it’s, we know there are a lot of prisoners going to be released. And by the way they were put in…”

O’Connor: “The prison system is a worry here in terms of Covid-19…”

O’Keeffe: “It is a worry…from a criminal justice angle, these people were put in prison for a reason. So just letting them out, we can’t all just suddenly say ‘well, it’s OK, there’s a pandemic. In one sense, you can of course because you must prevent a spread in prison but, on the other hand, the same criminal justice outcomes will potentially arise. So I think that’s a real issue.

“The criminal justice system is going to slow up. I think one of the big issues here is, if I can just mention this point about this idea, we’re hearing a little bit now on social media about human rights. We need to just park human rights for the moment and we need to…”

Stephen Kinsella: “Hang on a second…”

O’Keeffe: “…talk about human lives…”

Kinsella: “Hang on a second…”

O’Keeffe: “…this is all about, nothing else…”

Kinsella: “Park human rights?”

O’Connor: “Hang on, hang on, Stephen Kinsella…”

Kinsella: “Hang on a second, park human rights? Did you really just say that?”

O’Connor: “Ehm…”

Kinsella: “Did that commentator really just say park human rights?”

O’Connor: “….we need to park human rights?”

Kinsella: “Defend that statement please, sir, now.”

O’Keeffe: “I’m quite. No. I’m quite happy to repeat it…”

Kinsella: “Defend it…”

O’Keeffe: “…well I will. When people’s lives are at risk, as they clearly are at the moment, human rights in the way we have been discussing them in Ireland over the last few years have to become an adjunct issue until such time as we save our population.”

O’Connor: “Stephen Kinsella?”

Kinsella: “An adjunct issue? Really? Like you really think that…”

O’Keeffe: “That human lives trump human rights? Yes I absolutely do.”

Kinsella: “That’s, no, no, I think you’re fundamentally, you’re, the first part of your discussion was, you know, ‘these people’, you know, who are allegedly being released. And then you’re saying that we need to park human rights. Do you not think that in this society, in a republic, that’s not an acceptable statement to make.”

O’Keeffe: “It is in the context of what’s going on at the moment. Nobody is saying we should forget human rights at any period, least of all now…”

Kinsella: “Well, you are… that’s what…”

O’Keeffe: “…it takes priority…Human lives take priority so if there are police checks all over Dublin, and by the way, I was stopped three times coming here today. Some other people would say my human rights were infringed, well you know what? I didn’t mind it at all because I know what the end result is meant to be, that’s what I’m talking about. What I don’t want are people getting carried away with what they believe to be human rights issues which, quite frankly, are subservient to human lives…that’s my point.”

O’Connor: “Issues such as what, John?”

O’Keeffe: “Such as what happened to me today, for example. I was stopped, I was asked questions, I wasn’t asked for documents, I told them who I was, I told them where I was going and that was fine. But there are some people who would find that offensive. What I’m saying is I don’t find it offensive and I think none of us should in the next while, until we get over this pandemic.”

O’Connor: “Stephen.”

Kinsella: “If you’re in a situation where somebody chooses to deprive you of your liberty and they do that based on a suspicion, and that suspicion turns out not to be true, and you have no recourse, is that in your conception of things, ok? Because there’s a pandemic?”

O’Connor: “But Stephen, are we not slightly all giving up some of our rights at the…”

Kinsella: “I have no issue, I have no issue with being asked what my movements are, at this particular point in time. My reaction was in hearing a statement that you have to simply suspend human rights. I just think that that statement is far too far. And I don’t think the other speaker has defended that position in any way actually.”

Meanwhile…

Listen back in full here

Previously: ‘They Falsified Them Under Pressure From Gardaí’

29 thoughts on ““We Need To Just Park Human Rights”

      1. jason

        I find that all the government reactions re. covid19 have been following the trends on social media, pub closures being one example, half arsed lock down, then full lock down, being another two kak handed examples of the gov following online outrage. These decisions should have been done ahead of the outrage as Switzerland did weeks ago with a full lockdown once they realised the situation. I am a layman and have no expertise apart from reading articles online and a simpelton like myself could see this coming. So I am asking people to share the story and comment so the ffg spin machines can pick it up and react, hopefully it will slow the spread a little bit more.

        1. Gearóid

          Switzerland is not on lockdown. My in-laws (in one canton) can drive to the mountains to cycle, while my friends (in another canton) are free to walk out of town and into the woods.

          Their supermarkets had one-in, one-out measures in place before us, but they are still behind us in most other ways re dealing with the virus.

    1. bisted

      …heard it too…absolutely incredible…fair play to the other guy for calling him out immediately…say what you like about Marion but she would have skinned O’Keefe…goes to show that the new host is a lightweight or holds those views himself…or both…

      1. V

        Well Kate (O’Connell) put some manners on him in the earlier segment

        And yes,
        Marion rip, would have sent him home crying

  1. George

    Extreme times are the time when human rights get violated the most so they are as important now as ever. =

  2. Kolmo

    The falangists are waiting in the wings…to back up the vultures sitting quietly, biding their time, waiting for the economy to die..
    Dark times if they are let away with it, again.

  3. class wario

    how DARE anybody criticise any aspect of the state approach to this crisis. you are all shinnerbots. only Fine Gael may make political capital from this!

  4. Cian

    Do you all realise that our human rights have been curtailed already ?
    – The freedom to move
    – The Right to Public Assembly

    And I’m okay with this – for a limited time – as a defence against COVID19.

    Some of our human right have been parked.

    1. GiggidyGoo

      O Keeffe didn’t say ‘some’ though.
      He is a dangerous individual, and no surprise being given airtime on RTE and Ballsey’s show with those kind of views.
      We have already seen what goes on when the Gardai turn a blind eye to things like the UK Police van and it’s load of thugs in Dublin, and what went on with the Northern eviction thugs in the midlands. Bad enough when they get a Get Out Of Jail Free Card then, but O’Keeffe trying to convince us that giving them immunity from anything they do is acceptable should be his downfall.

      1. Linda

        Agree wholeheartedly with you. Shame on Brendan Ó C giving him airtime….what does a lightweight economist know about criminal behaviour and legislation…

    2. V

      In fairness
      Everyone recognises the current restrictions as being in the public’s interest, as is all Community Health and Welfare Services and Notices.

      Just like fire safety regs, safe food practices, health and safety, rules of the road, even litter and dumping bylaws.

      And now these particular emergency crisis caps, limits and orders are specific and unique just to slow down the virus Covid-19

      Like Storm Emma/ Beast from the East curfews
      And other weather and flood warnings

      All perfectly normal parts of a civilised society that is administered as a Democracy in the public and National interest

      This lad O’Keeffe – apparently a college lecturer, should know that, and recognise what is not even an iota of a nuance of difference, but a great big toxic Exxon oil spill of one.

      And even associating such a landmark promise to all of us, even if you haven’t paid your TV licence, from the moment we are born, our Human Rights FFS,
      with what we are been asked to observe now, as parents, children, friends, colleagues, neighbours, Citizens
      Was contemptibly crass, rude and opportunistic

      But more importantly, and poignantly – for me anyway, fundamentally unpatriotic.

      He exploited a free platform to expound his own intolerant and inhumane politics – there was nothing Shoulder ta’ Shoulder about it.
      The fact that he’s thick, self-serving and a bit of a gobshyte just makes him ideal RTÉ material.

      In this case however RTÉ should apologise
      My guess is that Joe wash your hands is going to light up tomorrow

      I’ll have to find a conference call to hop on to.

    3. Rosette of Sirius

      On one hand they screamed for a complete lockdown and for all points of entry blocked. For communities with elevated levels of infection to be identified and published.

      But then when the moment of civil liberty and how it relates to ‘human rights’ are questioned, it’s a calamity.

      I swear, they’re all off their head.

  5. Porter

    What’s been incredible for me so far is that the entire “mandatory order” this weekend is an illusion. There are no more garda powers, they cannot prevent you from going about your day to day. Harris has yet to sign regulations into force that give effect to this “mandatory order”. They have been promised for this weekend, but have yet to be published or brought into law.

    It is admirable that as people in a time of crisis that we don’t need the force of law to compel us to adapt our behaviour for the greater good. But I do worry for the future that if the government just announces something that many people see that as being the law.

    This is going to be medium- to long-term game of public acquiescence to garda enforcement of the curtailment of individual liberties. I hope that the gardaí will continue to have this so called “consent” based approach to policing and don’t use a heavy hand.

    1. Cian

      Surely this is a good thing? The fact that these aren’t laws – the Guards have to have the people’s consent? and can’t use a heavy hand. In the modern social-media driven world any infraction by the Guards would be well-publicised and they lose their ‘consent’.

      1. Porter

        You’re right Cian. It absolutely is a good thing. My issue is how it is being presented and how it has not been revealed when in the next few hours or days the “mandatory order” actually has legal effect and what those actual garda powers will consist of.

        1. Cian

          I’m a bit confused. You want them to tell you *now* what they might need to enforce in a few hours or days? I would image they don’t actually know what is needed.

          If people listen to the government and follow their direction then we literally have “policing by peoples consent” and there is no need to pass draconian rules. OTOH if people don’t listen, then they will have to pass some legislation – but it would be tailored to what is actually required needed.

          Personally I would much prefer this ‘as-required’ approach than for the government to immediately pass ‘worst-case’ draconian legislation and leave it to individual Gardaí to decide how far to enforce.

  6. Matt Pilates

    O’Keefe is incredibly well qualified – editor of the Garda Review; a position Paul Williams would give his eye teeth for.

  7. millie aka oprah

    Entirely irrelevant, but he has the kind of face I’d love to slap with a wet sock.

  8. Murtles

    I agree 100% with O’Keeffe in his statement (otherwise he’s a thundering….).
    *whinge whinge the Guards stopped me to ask where I was going, that’s an infringement of my human rights.
    *whinge whinge spit hoods are an infringement of my human rights, I should be allowed spit on whomever I like.
    In this crisis, true human nature is revealed (e.g. the plebs who panic bought food 2 weeks ago and are now throwing it out). Restrictions are there for the good of humanity for the next 3 to 4 months (and it will be months). You’ve no human rights if you’re dead.

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