Letters to the Editor: Raising the garda recruitment age is an act of desperation 

One reader questions the attractiveness to older recruits of a belated career in An Garda Síochána, while others write about aspects of the Israel-Palestine conflict
Letters to the Editor: Raising the garda recruitment age is an act of desperation 

Eva Mahedy, Westmeath, Stephen O'Donnell, Kildare, Emer Sheehan, Tipperary, David Darker, Kildare, Aideen Gavin, Galway, Chris Stynes, Laois, Luara Funney, Mayo, and Philip Curran, Waterford, among the new gardaí at their passing out parade in Templemore on Friday. Picture: Brendan Gleeson

Justice Minister Helen McEntee’s proposal to increase the age level to 50 and reduce fitness standards to join An Garda Síochána is an act of sheer desperation.

No one in their right minds would want to join a police force at 50 years of age, when most gardaí are retiring, unless they are desperate for excitement or for something to do, putting themselves in harm’s way or dealing with ever increasing bureaucratic oversight or incessant investigations by Gsoc or other internal Garda units. 

Whoever thought this was a good idea, including reducing fitness standards so as to accommodate near pensionable recruits, shows that they have no idea or concept of what it is to be a member of a police force.

The limited pension of 10 years will be worth zilch to those applying in the upper age limits given the changes that occurred to pensions and gratuities for new recruits after 2015. It takes at least 10 to 15 years as a member of the force to equip yourself with the knowledge and understanding of how to properly conduct investigations and have a better understanding of legislative changes in criminal law and case law. 

This is nothing other than a deflection by the minister and others of the ongoing difficulties in the force of retaining and recruiting suitable candidates.

If we start down the road of reducing fitness and age requirements, where will our force be in another couple of decades?

Will we see members of the force being supplied with mobility scooters in order to patrol?

Someone joining at the upper age limits may have life experiences under their belts, but they won’t be equipped to deal with the increasing demands made on them or the violence being perpetrated against their person.

I despair at the direction our force is taking with bureaucrats, accountants, pen- pushers, and political ineptitude, destroying the very fabric of an admired and dedicated organisation.

This proposal by Ms McEntee reduces the professional standards of recruitment and fitness that has been the hallmark of this organisation.

Christy Galligan (retired garda sergeant), Letterkenny, Co Donegal

Ideologists ignore Hamas’ theocracy

Having observed with growing despair, over the last week, how the anti-Israel narrative has asserted itself day-by-day, the sense of a desperately wounded and aggrieved Jewish people has been dispatching to the periphery by the ideological warriors of the pro-Palestinian movement (safely tapping away at their laptops) who, attempt with every observation, to diminish the suffering of a traumatised nation by offering doctrinal justification for Hamas’ murderous rampage against a civilian population.

Not once have I seen in the multiple letters of Israeli condemnation, an insight into how the Palestinian people’s worst enemy is not the state of Israel, but the butchering masters of Gaza, the theocratic Islamists of Hamas, which has in its founding charter, avowed the very destruction of the Israeli state and its Jewish population.

Inevitably, the retort to this observation will follow the rigid doctrine of how Israel is the sole aggressor, which if, as demanded, is isolated politically and economically, then the Palestinian people of Gaza will somehow flower and prosper. 

This is an impossible dream, even if their goal of destroying Israel was realised, Hamas would impose a theocratic Islamist regime where the average Palestinian would resemble the cowed and terrified citizens of Afghanistan.

Kevin McCarthy, Killaloe, Co Clare 

Antisemitism is on the rise again

The scenes unfolding in Israel and Gaza have left people sickened and disbelieving: Innocent human beings gunned down by fanatics in their homes or gardens, and then, the equally innocent victims of retaliatory airstrikes.

But do we have to add to the sum total of human misery by blaming people outside the war zones who have played no part whatsoever in the hostilities?

A Jew living in London or Dublin is not responsible in even the smallest degree for the decisions of the Israeli government or the actions of that country’s armed forces. Likewise, an Arab or Muslim far removed from the scene of conflict should not be made to suffer for the attitudes or actions of groups like Hamas or ISIS.

In the 1970s and ’80s the Irish in Britain suffered a backlash following IRA bomb attacks. We rightly felt aggrieved by that unjust blame and prejudice and we should now also reject the scapegoating of other communities.

In recent days I have listened to the most hateful commentary directed against Jews — not specifically those living in Israel, whether in or out of uniform — but just anyone who happens to be Jewish.

Antisemitism has been making comeback in recent years, with the same tired old myths and misinformation being trotted out by the hate-mongers; the same cocktail of prejudices that in the past fuelled repression, denial of citizenship, and ultimately genocide.

John Fitzgerald, Callan, Co Kilkenny

Genocidal war on Palestinians in Gaza

Violence never happens in a vacuum. Israel is a settler colonial regime practicing apartheid. Specific events cannot be disconnected from Israel’s daily practices and policies that actively maintain that subjugation and domination over the Palestinian people, and has done so for over seven decades. 

Very few of the Palestinians brutally killed by the Israeli forces (more than 1,500 as of October 2023) are being reported on and named. 

Their stories have not been shared, nor have their families and close ones been given a platform. This leads to a consistent cycle where Palestinian lives are treated as mere numbers and their death, imprisonment, torture, injuries and traumas are trivialised. Apartheid Israel just “ordered” 1.1 million Palestinians to “evacuate” the northern half of the prison which is Gaza.

Israel is now ready, with US and European support, to commit unprecedented massacres in its genocidal war on the 2.3m Palestinians in Gaza.

Since Saturday, Israel’s US-supplied bombs have murdered over 1,500 Palestinians, over a third of them children. Over half a million Palestinians, most of them refugees, have been displaced, but with no safe haven to take shelter in. 

They are only obstacles in the way of clearing the lands to the River Jordan for Jewish settlers. This is the stated aim of the Israeli leaders since 1948.

Don Teegan, Union Hall, Co Cork

Disproportionate actions of Israel

I’m glad to hear that Micheál Martin has condemned the collective punishment on the civilians in the Gaza strip by Israel.

What Israel is doing in retaliation for the actions of Hamas is not proportionate.

Israel is devoid of compassion toward civilians in this respect, especially as it has kept Gaza under a strict blockade for 15 years or so already. The people in Gaza have no bomb shelters and no right of return if they do leave.

Israeli aggression in this sense literally amounts to a policy of genocide in Palestine.

Application of the Geneva Convention on human rights in Israel and Palestinian territory is the only way forward for peace in the region, as justice is necessary for peace to be achieved.

This application of the law must also include holding Israel accountable for the multiple violations of UN resolutions on building settlements on Palestinian territory and take into account the fact that Israel is an apartheid state.

Maeve Lyons, Clonmel, Co Tipperary

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