Letters to the Editor: Gardaí were like lambs to the slaughter in Dublin riot

One reader highlights faulty policing structures in the wake of the Dublin riots, while others consider issues including Ireland's military neutrality and artificial intelligence
Letters to the Editor: Gardaí were like lambs to the slaughter in Dublin riot

Workers clearing debris from around a burned-out Luas tram and bus on O'Connell St in the aftermath of the violent scenes in the city centre on Thursday evening. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA

Every person I met at the end of last week, from the early morning postman to the girls in the coffee shop — all hard working, dedicated, honest citizens of Cork — could not hold back their emotions, anger, and disgust at the appalling behaviour and thuggery that embarrassed the nation last Thursday.

As the heated discussion flowed, one stranger, an elderly gentleman, proposed that we contact our local TDs and let them know our feelings and what we believe needs to happen to regain trust and to feel safe. I thought his idea was excellent and I hope TDs read my letter.

In the coffee shop, another lady stated with anger and fear in her voice “this is only the beginning… where have we come to as a society?”

Her hard-working colleague, a mother of two young children, followed on “and while all the rhetoric and news is on radio and TV these guys and girls are in bed after their night of bravado and we are here working to support our families, shocked and embarrassed”.

As a parent who schooled two children in Cork, after returning from a foreign country where I was an immigrant, I can vividly imagine the fear in the minds of all those parents and staff who are connected to the school on Parnell St.

What I and those I spoke to wish to question is as follows.

Given the history of the Troubles in the North of Ireland that scarred thousands of people for decades; given the acute and escalating gang wars that drug lords in Ireland engage in; given the fact that our economy is booming, especially our tourism sector; given the fact that we have brilliantly-trained armed forces in a neutral land that are so specialised they train top military personnel around the globe, therefore, how in God’s name can our gardaí be led like lambs to the slaughter and undergo violence and abuse by a relatively small number of thugs?

We have very proud, hard-working people who are among the best in technology and medicine on the planet.

Our medical doctors and nurses emigrate due to conditions of work in this booming economic land of ours and the vacuum they leave behind is filled by people from foreign shores without whom we would be totally lost.

As an active community citizen I have had quite a lot of contact over the past years with gardaí in one of Cork’s busiest stations.

I have old friends who work in the same station and I can fully sympathise with the overload of work, lack of numbers to deal with the volume of incidents on the increase, and their fear, as levels of violence escalate.

How are they feeling after the Dublin riot?

Are they well served or disgruntled with the structuring of the police force, similar to our doctors and nurses?

Why is it that we have deep structural imperfections at the most basic level of our society and they are old, old problems that have not been resolved?

This baffles those of us who work hard and want to remain proud of our place of birth and rear our children in a healthy, safe environment.

Putting up extra security cameras and allowing the gardaí more access to video footage may sound like a move towards a resolution. But the baseline structures are clearly faulty and it is totally unsatisfactory that these long-standing burning issues remain unresolved.

Declan O’Mahony, Old Commons Rd, Cork


Any excuse to riot

Aileen Hooper — ‘Mob were more 'all right Jack' than far-right’ (Irish Examiner Letters, November 25) — gets it spot on. The riot in Dublin last week — the wanton vandalism and looting — had little to do with political ideology.

There are groups of young and not-so-young men — for they are mostly men — who look for any excuse to go on a rampage.

Yes, they may be disaffected, they may have been neglected by parents and the State to the point where they feel lost and utterly frustrated, and angered by widespread inequality. Yet, they are products of this State and our entitlement society. We don’t promote independence and agency.

What we get are selfish brats who never grow up and assume responsibility for their own actions.

There’s always somebody else to blame for our woes.

Brendan Corrigan, Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon

Triple lock a limit to international affairs

In 1960 when we decided that Irish troops could only be sent abroad on missions backed by the United Nations, a cornerstone of our now triple lock, the world was a very different place.

The UN, now badly ruptured and near stagnation, was then a fledgling organisation buoyed by the hopes and aspirations of recovering from the trauma of the Second World War.

In comparison to our eminent international standing today, a diffident Ireland barely registered on the barometer of international affairs and geostrategy. 

With this in mind, Micheál Martin, in his role as minister for defence, is entirely correct in seeking to remove the triple lock or at the very least eliminate the UN as the sole key holder of this particular lock.

Unfortunately the debate on the issue will be toned and misinformed by arguments pertaining to our neutrality, an indistinct policy which we have left open to the vagaries of “self-definition” by individual or groups of citizens.

The bottom line, however, must be that all citizens are no longer left open to a Russian or Chinese veto on how our sovereign state may wish to conduct its international affairs to the benefit of other nations and their citizens in an increasingly wretched world.

Michael Gannon, Saint Thomas Sq, Kilkenny City

Triple lock veto can be worked around

Billy Kelleher offers an unconvincing defence of the Government’s decision to abandon the triple lock on Irish military deployment abroad — ‘Change rules to reflect new world’ (Irish Examiner, November 25).

His argument seems to be that the policy shift is simply a way of avoiding a “de facto veto” in the UN Security Council by “authoritarian dictators such as Putin and Xi”. These are strong words, when one considers that Mr Kelleher’s party leader and foreign affairs minister, Micheál Martin, travelled to China earlier this month on a mission to improve Irish relations with that country.

But, leaving this aside, it appears that Mr Kelleher is unaware that the UN element of the triple lock can operate via the General Assembly rather than the Security Council. There is a way to avoid the veto. A total rejection of the UN role in decision-making on international peacekeeping acts to undermine its institutions in general. In an increasingly belligerent world, this is just not a good thing. Ireland should be arguing for a constructive reform of the UN, not further weakening it.

Another aspect of Billy Kelleher’s argument is downright peculiar. He dismisses those of us who support Irish military neutrality and an anti-war perspective as “the usual gang of neutrality hawks” who allegedly “intensely dislike the US and the West”.

He really should play the ball and not the man (or woman), but it is a revealing comment.

What is a “neutrality hawk”? Is it someone who takes seriously Ireland’s longstanding policy of military neutrality? Unlike the present government? If so, I am happy to be a neutrality hawk.

Fintan Lane, Lucan, Co Dublin

AI is the modern Pandora’s box

At a recent writers’ group meeting we discussed the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in creative writing with an initial attempt at poetry giving sentences that did rhyme but lacked soul.

Rather than writing new material I asked different AI programs to improve some existing material. With Wordsworth’s ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ ChatGPT and Bard rewrote the poem whereas Bing gave some suggestions on how to improve it. With Hamlet’s soliloquy (‘To be, or not to be’) ChatGPT and Bard again rewrote the speech, but Bing recognised the piece and said that it was “not easy to improve such a masterpiece”.

The real worry, however, is that if we were to unleash more possibilities and control, AI might rewrite computer code such as the missile control systems to make them faster to respond and easier to use which might not be a step forward.

AI is the modern Pandora’s box except that the box is well and truly open and there might not be a “Hope” note at the bottom.

The rewrites were not an improvement.

Dennis Fitzgerald, Melbourne, Australia


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