Caution: Garda at work!


To people living in the North Inner City, the recent revelations at the Dublin City coroner’s court at the inquest into the death of young Terence Wheelock will not come as a surprise. Terence went into a coma from which he never recovered, after sustaining injuries in Store Street Garda station. One witness to his arrest said the Gardai ‘whacked Terence’s head off the side of the van and twisted his broken arm behind his back’.

Sadly, this will not come as a surprise to anyone who has witnessed the operations of the Gardai when dealing with the citizens of the city. There has always been something of a siege mentality amongst the enforcers of law and order in our streets. They appear to have little problems with the force part, whereas their efforts at winning respect within the community have been negligible. Indeed one of the Gardai that quite visibly lost the run of himself on the ‘Reclaim The Streets’ in May 2002, turned out to be a community guard. Obviously on that sunny evening, when he covered up his numbers and flayed his baton wildly into people, thugery came easier to him than did his community work.

The issue is that the Gardai appear to have precious little respect for the people that they’re supposed to be there to serve. Their purpose has always been to protect the property of the bosses, and they appear to be able to get away with murder after that. As long as normality is maintained, then they have carte-blanche to deal with the public.

Every year there are over 1200 complaints to the Garda Siochana Complaints Board. Many of these don’t appear to go anywhere. Less than ten per cent appear to reach some sort of conclusion and they get reported in vague bureaucratic language like they were ‘informally resolved at local level’. Many complaints appear to get withdrawn or appear to be deemed ‘inadmissible’. In 2004 the Director of Public Prosecutions only managed to start proceedings against a mere 3 Gardai, in respect of just 2 complaints.

The feeling is that this is an exercise in futility, complaining about the cops to a board that is made up of ex-cops who know where they stand on the issue long before they’ve heard the any statements.

The campaigners for Terence Wheelock are brave. They have shone a light into a dark corner of how the state conducts its business and we should all be grateful for that. The call for an independent inquiry must be heeded and it is about time the boys in blue were held accountable for their actions. That is never going to happen in the present set up. When the law enforcers are above the law, justice has to be fought for.

Meeting: Death By Cops - Justice For Terence Wheelock Campaign
2.45 pm - 3.45 pm, March 3rd, Anarchist Book fair, Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square

Laurence Wheelock talks about his family’s fight for justice for his brother Terence, a twenty year old man from Dublin’s north inner city who went into a coma after sustaining injuries in garda custody in June 2005 and subsequently died in September of that year.


This article is from the North-City Anarchist, March 2007

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