Who do the gardai really work for?

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A consortium of Shell, Statoil, and Marathon do a deal with the government allowing them exclusive exploitation rights to the Corrib gas field, off Mayo. Not only that, but they are allowed to write off their costs against taxes, meaning that the whole project is being funded by the PAYE taxpayer, who will receive nothing, not even lower gas prices. It may sound a bit iffy but there is no garda investigation into possible bribery or corruption.The locals in Rossport have a problem with a high-pressure gas pipeline going close to their homes, and want the gas refined offshore instead. That shouldn’t be a problem, Shell can well afford it, last year they made a profit of €2.39 million every single hour.

But the companies don’t care and the government, after ‘listening’ and ‘consulting’, takes the side of big business. So the locals, having petitioned, lobbied and pleaded, decide they have no option left but to obstruct construction of the pipeline and refinery.

The government springs into action, ‘law and order’ must be upheld. Over a hundred gardai are sent to this sparsely populated rural community. Locals are provoked, called names, pushed about. They have never experienced anything like this before.

Meanwhile, down in Limerick residents of Moyross have been subjected to intimidation, arson and shootouts between gangs of drug dealers. This has gone on for years. Has the government done anything to uphold ‘law and order’ there? Have they moved in hundreds of gardai to close down the gangs? Have they put in cash for education and jobs to provide a future for young people?

Of course not. Their one initiative was to appoint former Dublin City Manager, John Fitzgerald, to “co-ordinate initiatives at tackling social exclusion in Moyross”. This is the man who was in charge when anti-bin tax activists were jailed. He was also the one who tried to ban postering, so that only those rich enough to buy newspaper ads could advertise their events.

He will ‘consult’, publish expensive reports, and tell us that things are getting better. His job is not to do anything much, just to make it look as if the government ‘cares’. If the government get around to doing anything useful it will be because they feel under pressure, not because they care. If they cared they would have done it already.

Should we be surprised that the greed of Shell is more important the needs of working families? In a capitalist society those with capital (and oil & gas giants have shedloads of it) come first. It’s not called capitalism for nothing.

The gardai sometimes do a good job, putting drunk drivers off the road is one example. Sometimes they do a bad one, like the Donegal frame-ups. And sometimes they do a deadly one, like the unexplained deaths of Brian Rossiter and Terence Wheelock in garda stations.

Whatever your experience of them is, it is clear that their main and most important function is not upholding some impartial ‘law and order’, but upholding the power and privilege of the millionaires.


This article is from Workers Solidarity 94 Nov/Dec 2006

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