Death by Garda - Terence Wheelock and John Moloney

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The deaths of Terence Wheelock and John Moloney in Garda custody have again focused attention on the brutal nature of policing in this state. Brian Rossiter and John Carty are other names from a long list that have a public resonance.

Historically the Gardai have enjoyed a high level of public confidence and support outside of some poorer working class communities, and leftwing and republican circles. However the constant drip, drip of corruption stories and bitter experience, has gradually eroded this support.

Violence and corruption are part of any police force and for many years the Gardai had the advantage of political cover for their actions as the state perceived itself under threat from republicans. A culture of getting results at any cost built up. The notorious “heavy gang” operated with impunity in the 1970s, so Garda brutality is nothing new.

As Ireland has become wealthier and more unequal, the ruling class have been unwilling to tackle the problems that are plain to all but the most biased observer. The Gardai are the first line of defence of the status quo, their actions during any crisis are key to keeping the rabble in line. But as old social control structures have broken down, and in the absence of any serious subversive threat, peoples’ questioning of the Gardai’s authority and actions has increased.

The ERU who have killed several people in questionable circumstances come in for regular criticism and hardly a day passes where you will not hear someone complain of Garda graft or pettiness. In some communities the Gardai are viewed with suspicion and only turned to in the most desperate circumstances.

For now, despite all the talk, there is no real sanction on the actions of the Gardai. Retirement on full pension is the usual “punishment” for serious offenders. It is of critical importance that people support the campaign of the Wheelock, Moloney and other families for justice. Organised opposition can hopefully save more lives and create an atmosphere where people can begin working on community alternatives to the state’s hard line force.

 


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This article is from
Workers Solidarity 92, published June/July 2006

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