Letters to the Editor: Plan a full review of policing rather than merely calling for heads to roll

A policing expert proposes an approach to reviewing An Garda Síochána's work, while other readers address topics including war in the Middle East, neutrality, cinema, and Katie Taylor
Letters to the Editor: Plan a full review of policing rather than merely calling for heads to roll

Members of An Garda Síochána making an arrest near the GPO last Friday night amid the rioting and looting. Picture: Peter Morrison/AP 

In this week of continuing political scrutiny of An Garda Síochána’s performance when confronting serious public disorder in Dublin, I offer the following as an effective framework to review the Garda’s operation:

1. Intelligence: What was the quantity and pace of information flow? Were sufficient intelligence gathering and analytical resources in place on the day to process raw information into credible intelligence on which commanders could devise credible working strategies?

2. Working strategy: What was the outcome of Garda commanders’ interpretation of that intelligence product into a translation of risk facing members of the public, their property, gardaí and perpetrators? How was that risk assessment articulated into objectives for the Garda operation by the cadre of commanders at strategic, operational and tactical (ie street) levels? How did the risk assessment impact on the level of resourcing and style of policing? 

For example, did early, unclear intelligence deem it unwise for Garda planners to immediately denude other Garda divisions of gardaí otherwise to be deployed to address clearly defined and immediate risks to life elsewhere? Within the Garda’s Dublin Metropolitan Region, what was the level of deployable public-order trained personnel available to commanders to surge capacity and capability of the public order unit?

3. Powers and policy: What lawful powers and internal policies did Garda commanders consider utilising? How did the shape of these powers and policies prompt commanders to prioritise and constrain actions, so that Garda use of force was proportionate, lawful, accountable, and necessary?

4. Options and contingencies: Every commander has options and must make contingencies. Options available included choosing to rely on the capture of digital images of perpetrators, rather than using force in arresting them at the scene. In this, and in all decisions that commanders ought to have formally logged on that day, were choices made proportionate to the risk, as defined by the intelligence? If so were they acceptable choices in terms of lawfulness, accountability and necessity?

5. Take action and review: Crucially, how often was intelligence reviewed and the plans dynamically updated? Were plan changes, as they occurred, clearly communicated to reflect fast escalating levels of threat, risk and harm? What about proportionate de-escalation? 

What measures were in place — from the very commencement of the operation — to reassure the public and return policing, especially neighbourhood engagement, to a normal state? In totality and specifically, did Garda actions on the day reflect the stated objectives, resourcing and style of policing set out in commanders’ planning?

UK policing’s National Decision Model, developed by the College of Policing and which this writer utilises here, puts ethics at the centre of policing decision-making. 

The onus upon public office holders to uphold ethical decision-making extends to politicians who have, unfortunately, already chosen to distract problem-solving efforts by simplistically calling for heads.

Michael Mulqueen, Professor of Policing and National Security, School of Law and Policing, University of Central Lancashire

Israeli internment

In almost two months of witnessing the bloodshed in Gaza, what a welcome relief it has been to view the coverage of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners being released.

Amid tearful family reunions, we’ve also seen Palestinian prisoners on our screens speaking out about their conditions in Israeli jails. Of these 150 Palestinians freed, what have we learned?

Many were children, the youngest only 14 years old. Most were imprisoned under a system called “administrative detention”, in which Israeli military courts can impose an unlimited number of consecutive six-month sentences, based on secret evidence, without trial.

This is internment. Israel prosecuted these Palestinian residents of the West Bank under military law yet prosecute Israeli settlers in the West Bank under criminal and civil law. This is apartheid. Over 99% of such cases tried in military courts end in conviction, according to the human rights organisation Military Court Watch. This is not a democracy.

Amnesty International also reports that torture is widespread in Israeli jails. As Palestinian human rights organisations Adameer and Al-Haq summarise, “in the absence of international accountability, Israel enjoys a culture of impunity that systematically subjects Palestinian prisoners and detainees to numerous forms of torture and cruel treatment as part of its settler-colonial and apartheid regime against the Palestinian people”.

Looking at the jubilant crowds greeting prisoners in the West Bank, it’s difficult not to think of the iconic scene of the release of the Guildford Four in 1989. The remainder of Gerry Conlon’s life was haunted by what he wrongfully suffered in prison. What can these freed Palestinians expect, amidst the ongoing massacre of their people, the ethnic cleansing of Gaza, the stony faces of the international community?

Clíodhna Bhreatnach, Drumcondra, Dublin 9

Honour Katie Taylor

The new name for Trinity College’s Berkeley Library should be the Katie Taylor Library. 

She’s a great role model, an inspirational and encouraging example to all genders and all ages.

She shows to all that difficulties, challenges, problems, obstacles, are surmountable, achievable by commitment, determination, and hard work, hard graft.

When the road gets tough, the tough keep on going and they achieve their dream result.

And she remains a grounded, all-round beautiful person.

Margaret Walshe, Clonsilla Rd, Dublin 15


Keep the triple lock

Tánaiste Micheál Martin claims that the triple lock mechanism requiring the UN Security Council’s approval before Irish peacekeeping forces can be deployed abroad is an infringement of Irish sovereignty.

This triple lock mechanism requiring UN approval was passed by Dáil Éireann in 1960. Sixty-three years later, after many Irish UN peacekeeping missions, Mr Martin is now claiming this requirement infringes Irish sovereignty as the UN Security Council’s big five’s veto delimits Irish freedom.

It is not just Russia which continues to use its veto to prevent any criticism of its invasion of Ukraine but also the US which uses its veto to veto any criticism of its close ally, Israel.

Rather than threatening to withdraw from UN approval, Mr Martin should support efforts by the General Assembly in its efforts to delimit/ nullify the use of this veto.

On April 26, 2022, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution requiring accountability when a veto is cast in the Security Council by any of the big five.

It requires the country involved to explain the circumstances of its veto to the rest of the nations of the UN.

While the General Assembly has no authority to overrule decisions of the Security Council it marks a positive step forward to reduce the power of the veto by the big five.

Further, if he is convinced that the UN component in the triple lock mechanism infringes Irish sovereignty let him refer the 1960 legislation to the Irish Supreme Court to test its constitutionality.

Rather than undermining Irish sovereignty, the UN component of the triple lock prevents Irish governments from joining international military alliances which would then certainly threaten Ireland’s sovereignty.

Brendan Butler, Drumcondra, Dublin 9

Screen magic

I concur with Des O’Driscoll’s article on the big increase in attendance at the 68-year-old cinema extravaganza — ‘Cork Film Festival comes to a close amidst big increase in audiences’ Irish Examiner, November 27.

I was one of 650 people in The Everyman for the International gala of All of Us Strangers which surely must be a record for a single cinema event in Ireland. To put that in context, it is equivalent to a standard 100-seat cinema auditorium being sold out for almost a week.

And Super Cine Saturday was a delight, with three very different films being shown in all the regional Cork cinemas. 

I attended a special screening of One Night in Millstreet in the beautiful, retro designed Regal Cinema in Youghal, which was the perfect venue for the Noel C Duggan-inspired fight between Steve Collins and Chris Eubank almost 30 years ago at the Green Glens Arena. An extremely well-made and poignant documentary that everyone will want to see when it goes on general release in the New Year.

With the Gate Cinema in Cork City centre due to reopen in December under the new and exciting stewardship of the Arc Cinema group, things are definitely looking up on Leeside for cinephiles and their friends this holiday season.

Tom McElligott, Listowel, Co Kerry


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