Author Archives: Peter Keating

From top: Anti-Lockdown protest on Grafton Street, Dublin 2 last Saturday week; Debenhams Workers on a picket outside the Debenhams shop on Henry Street were moved on by An Garda Siochana last May

“The Garda Síochána will succeed, not by force of arms or numbers, but by their moral authority as servants of the people”

Michael Joseph Staines, First Garda Commissioner

Peter Keating writes:

The above statement is, in my opinion, a good founding principle for any Police Service in a free democracy. What is meant by “moral authority”? Wikipedia defines it as “authority premised on principles, or fundamental truths, which are independent of written, or positive, laws.”

Under its current leadership, An Garda Síochána has become increasingly politicised by this government and its predecessor. This undermines the moral authority which Michael Staines rightly recognised as being so vital to its success as a Police Service.

The Gardaí should indeed be servants of the people, not private political and ideological enforcers. Unfortunately, we are seeing policing in Ireland increasingly take its cue from the double standards of its political masters.

Last April, Gardaí broke up a demonstration by ordinary citizens protesting the loss of their jobs at Debenhams. Ironically, in light of recent events, the Debenhams protests were endorsed by prominent figures from the Irish Left.

Last June, a five thousand-strong Black Lives Matters protest marched through Dublin with hardly a Garda in sight. This demonstration, supposedly in the middle of a deadly pandemic, drew no condemnation from the political establishment – quite the contrary.

Last December, there was a virtual media blackout and no arrests made after violence in Blanchardstown. This is in stark contrast to the political, media, and Garda reaction to the anti-lockdown demonstration in Dublin a week ago last Saturday.

Protestors were met by a phalanx of Gardaí (both mounted and on foot) who were suited and booted with dogs and batons at the ready long before the lobbing of a firework by an individual who may have had nothing to do with the protest.

There have also been double standards applied to funerals under government restrictions and, of course responses to other incidents such as, Golfgate, Alan Kelly maskless on the Luas, the RTÉ party and the party at the Garda station, has been inconsistent.

The behaviour of Gardaí at evictions has also been called into question. The role of An Garda Síochána at an eviction is quite clear: They are there to prevent a breach of the peace and to ensure the safety of all concerned. If they witness a breach of the peace or any other offence, then they are duty-bound to act.

It really is that simple. With respect to the assertion in the Irish Independent article referenced above that “An Garda Síochána is a learning organisation” and the request for an urgent external report so that the organisation can “learn lessons” – isn’t that exactly the purpose of the expensive two-year training course which Garda recruits undergo?

There have been other incidences of the organisation and its members acting inappropriately and outside of its remit in the furtherance of various agendas unrelated to policing, such as the organisation’s promotion of vaccines on social media.

Then there’s the TikTok dancing, supposedly to “Lift the Nation’s Spirits”. The participation of An Garda Síochána in an inane (but undoubtedly very expensive) dance production at a time when livelihoods and lives are being lost as a result of the government restrictions which they are enforcing was completely inappropriate. At best, it was in bad taste. It was unnerving and slightly sinister, like a bully wanting to be your friend. Notably, the Defence Forces and The Coast Guard wisely chose not to follow their example.

There is no doubt that the relationship between a politicised Garda Síochána and the ordinary citizen is changing – particularly under the current government restrictions – and not for the better. Policing by consent is being replaced by coercion.

The image of a gaggle of dancing Gardaí does not juxtapose well with the image of a cohort of Gardaí detailed to arrest and remove a woman from her place of business for exercising her Constitutional right to earn a living and provide for her family. Ordinary people are being criminalised for just trying to live their lives.

In a force (and An Garda Síochána can certainly be described once more as a force) comprising in excess of fourteen and a half thousand members, it is not unreasonable to believe that there are many who have their doubts about the direction policing has taken both generally, and specifically in relation to current government restrictions. Many have families themselves who are also suffering They can see the damage wrought by these restrictions to the people they are supposed to serve.

So where are the Garda whistleblowers now? All members have made a “Solemn Declaration” (albeit watered down from the original Sworn Oath) to uphold the Constitution – which is superior to all positive law – and hence to defend the rights and freedoms of all citizens which Bunreacht na hÉireann asserts and guarantees.

Is there really nobody prepared to raise their head above the parapet? Remember, five thousand members found it within themselves to take (forbidden) action over their pay in 1998 via the “Blue Flu”.

Meanwhile on Merseyside in the UK, there was a scene somewhat reminiscent of a relatively recent Garda photoshoot, but far less subtle: four officers from Merseyside Police – one wielding a large stick – posing in front of an advertising van bedecked with a rainbow-coloured billboard bearing the large slogan “BEING OFFENSIVE IS AN OFFENCE”.

The ill-advised stunt proved to be a step too far, however, and the resultant public backlash forced Merseyside Police into an embarrassing apology, a Superintendent being required to clarify that “being offensive” is, of course, not in itself an offence.

Although having occurred in another jurisdiction, such “woke” (and legally incorrect) virtue-signalling should also ring alarm bells here, particularly in the context of the impending enactment of identity politics-based “Hate Crime” legislation.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “Identity Politics” as “Politics in which groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group”.

Identity politics is by definition inherently divisive and inequitable. Legislation (and obviously enforcement) based upon it is not a good fit for a Republic that purports to assert the equality of all citizens before the law.

The drive to enact such legislation, supposedly in the midst of a deadly pandemic, is pure opportunism, an effort to make ideological hay while the political skies are clear. In truth, one would now be hard-pressed to separate the government parties ideologically, and the oxymoronic “Opposition” lie even further to the Left.

The covid-19 narrative continues to provide fruitful opportunities for the government parties to achieve long-held political and ideological aims.

Many of those who have championed this legislation, and who seek desperately to discover a fascist bogeyman to help justify it, are the same people who have spent the last 11 months steadily eroding the fundamental rights and freedoms of Irish citizens. The irony appears lost on them, but the fact remains that these are the people dictating the policing agenda.

An Garda Síochána must return to the first principles advocated by Michael Staines. They must repudiate the service of political agendas and return to their role as servants of the people. Politicisation and poor leadership is undermining the moral authority of An Garda Síochána.

Care should be taken to ensure that it is not lost, or the loss of the support, trust, and consent of the people will surely follow.

Peter Keating is a ‘part-time writer and artist’ based in Munster.


From left:Tanaiste and Minister for Defence Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, and Minister for Climate Action, Communications Networks and Transport Eamon Ryan

Peter Keating writes:

Imagine if you will, a government that nobody actually voted for. A government with no opposition that legislates at the behest of a committee of unelected civil servants.

A government that took over from a “caretaker” administration that had been voted out of office nearly five months previously yet still held full executive powers and introduced legislation resulting in civil restrictions unprecedented in the history of the State.

How did we get here?

Well, if it were not already apparent, the last twelve months have certainly served to expose the shocking state of ill-health of Irish democracy.

In addition to the scenario referenced in the first paragraph, there exists a web of inherently unhealthy relationships, both familial and commercial, spanning the entire Irish political class, a tamed, nodding media, and the pharmacological and technological industries.

This political and financial incest between those who introduce legislation, those who control and disseminate information, and those hawking their wares is evidently self-serving, but most certainly does not serve the public interest, and represents an existential threat to genuine, transparent democracy.

Sandwiched somewhere in the middle is a Police Force. Once upon a time it had designs on being a Police Service, but over the past twelve months it has most definitely reverted to being a Police Force; one whose members appear unable or unwilling to question the legality – or at the very least the morality – of their orders from their political masters, preferring instead to seek the comfort of overtime and the surreality of TikTok dance challenges.

A pliant citizenry have, of course, played their own role, and the ease with which the majority have demonstrated their willingness to unquestioningly surrender their most fundamental rights and freedoms has been truly shocking.

It would almost lead one to believe that the people no longer wish to bear the onerous burden of personal responsibility, instead wishing to cede responsibility for living their own lives to the State.

Everything has its price, of course. Perhaps public acquiescence is not so surprising after all, considering that for some time now indoctrination has been masquerading more and more as education. Stateism may very well turn out to be the life choice of a generation reared on an intellectual diet of The X-Factor, but it will be a shocking legacy to leave to their children, who didn’t sign up for it.

Evidently, the political situation in Ireland mirrors a broader trend towards “Super-Stateism” and the erosion of democracy and its associated freedoms in the western world generally and – more pertinently in Ireland’s case – the European Union. Bleating about European militarism from some of the usual suspects on the Irish Left ring hollow. They signed up for this, one and all. The days of Ireland opting out of aspects of the European Project that it finds unpalatable are long gone.

The cent began to drop in Brussels and Berlin the day the Irish people acceded to having a second EU referendum force-fed to them after returning the wrong answer in the first. The cent dropped all the way when the political class volunteered Ireland to be Europe’s fall guy for the economic crash of 2008 and the people went along with it. It’s all or nothing with the EU now, comrades.

Are these people really so naïve that they don’t realise that once political and monetary union have been achieved, then military union must necessarily follow?  Perhaps those who resolved to vote for them in the last election can answer the question for them in the next one.

Looking at the current lie of the Irish political landscape, it is honestly hard at the moment to see from where meaningful change will come.

Despite their virtue-signalling, hand-wringing (and hand sanitising), from a political point of view there is actually is very little to dislike about the current situation for those on the red and green wavelengths of the political spectrum. The long-term prognosis for the return of healthy democracy does not appear to be great.

However, the covid-19 narrative that has been created now seems to have almost taken on a life of its own. Trial balloons are being floated up on an almost daily basis in order to gauge the receptiveness of a fearful, weary public to absolutely ridiculous, dystopian nonsense.

The political class and their allies have created a monster, but they would do well to remember that artificial monsters, having once gained self-awareness, do have a habit of eventually seeking out their creators and… well, let’s say, coming home to roost.

The Irish body politic needs a prescription for a Great Reset, alright – just not the type of Great Reset that the self-serving elitists who are currently pulling the strings are working towards.

Peter Keating
is a ‘part-time writer and artist’ based in Munster.