Force Contempt: The Gardaí and our Underclass

So a Dublin jury has declared innocent the four Gardaí who, and these facts were uncontested, rendezvoused on the night of Feb. 17, 2008 with the intention of entering the Gaffney home. This they proceeded to do, and whatever happened in the Gaffney home they sure were not having a friendly chat. When they decided it was time to leave, they had not arrested, or even cautioned, any one despite evidence from them that Owen Gaffney had “been very violent” and had spat at them. What saintly forbearance they showed.

Ownen Gaffney and others in our lumpen proletariat have many disadvantages; accent, education or lack of, address, their attitude towards others, others’ attitude towards them, but the greatest disadvantage is that they are white. If they were any shade of black or brown the discrimination would be so obvious as to be unacceptable. If our underclass were black, terms like scumbag, skanger, chav, knacker, would not be acceptable, and Gardaí would not feel entitled to enter a home without a search warrant no matter where or to whom that home belonged.

If young Gaffney was black the papers and airwaves would now be full of angst-ridden opinion pieces wondering if we were living in 1920’s Alabama or 2010’s Dublin.

But as the in vogue phrase goes, we are where we are. Our lumpen class is white, Contempt for them is socially acceptable. Perjury and state violence is considered a legitimate tactic of social control by many in the Garda and very many in the general population, and so we have this travesty of a verdict.

As one who faced a very serious and very elaborate, though ultimately unsuccessful attempt to frame me back in the early 1980’s (judge to jury “I hope there is no danger of you finding this man guilty”) and who saw first hand the ease with which many Gardaí especially seasoned and middle ranking Gardaí lie under oath I can tell you it takes an effort to recognize that not all Gardaí are corrupt.

But honest and courageous Gardaí do exist, one of my aquatintances is a pillar of his Church and would die I reckon before committing perjury. He is kept well away from the streets. The safety check which having a large percent of honest Gardaí out on the street would be, is diluted, I believe, by placing those unwilling to turn a blind eye to fellow members bending and breaking the law, behind desks, in administrative positions. Best keep them far away from any temptation to buck the “all in this together” culture.

This I believe also lies behind the refusal to allow members of the Sikh religion to wear turbans as part of their Garda uniform. The few Sikhs that I have met seem to me to be an upstanding group of people. Their religion is tolerant and enlightened and if they take it seriously enough to never cut their hair and wear a turban I suspect they would take it seriously enough not to lie.

The awful truth is, that may make them unwelcome in the Garda Síochána.

eamo 01.08.2011

13 Responses

  1. I remember reading the Courts section of the Irish Times way back in the 80s concerning a case of burglary and the defendant claimed in court that he had been assaulted by the Gardai in the station – the judge inquired as to whether the beating he received was serious or just a ‘general knockabout’ by the guards!

    I think it’s bred into some gardai that they can beat, batter and generally show disrespect to people from certain sections of society, and to do so with impunity.

  2. do you have reference for the fact that they didn’t arrest gaffney

    • Hi Steve, during the trial evidence was given that after the Gardaí left, photos were taken of Owen Gaffneys injuries and he was brought to hospital. Will post link if I can find one. eamo.

  3. Here is something to be going on with while I dig for more:
    Opening the case for the prosecution at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Tom O’Connell, Senior Counsel, told the jury the case was about members of An Garda Síochána acting unlawfully.

    He said it was the prosecution’s case that the gardaí arrived in numbers without a search or arrest warrant and forced their way in to Mrs Gaffney’s flat.

    He claimed Mr Gaffney was kicked and punched by all four gardaí and beaten with a baton by O’Leary and Murtagh.

    “In the course of the assault on Owen Gaffney, his mother was in there in the beginning of the assault and then she was forcibly taken from the bedroom and she was put in the bathroom and the door was held shut by various members,” he added.

    Three of the gardaí – Delaney, Murtagh and O’Leary – were stationed in Kilmainham at the time. Conlon was stationed at Kevin Street station.

    Mr O’Connell said three other gardaí who were not involved in the alleged pre-arranged assault but were at the flat will give evidence during the trial, adding that an attempt had been made to suppress their knowledge.

    He told the court witnesses will claim O’Leary lifted Mr Gaffney’s duvet and hit him over the head with a baton while another garda kicked him in the head as his mother watched.

    Someone then grabbed Mrs Gaffney by the throat, forced her into the bathroom and held the lever handle up for about five minutes, Mr O’Connell alleged.

    The prosecutor said a friend of Mr Gaffney’s had called his mother when he saw the gardaí entering the flat and recorded the incident on his mobile phone.

    A copy of the recording, which lasted almost two minutes, was later handed over to the Garda Ombudsman which investigated the Gaffneys’ complaints.

    Medics later noted a bruise on Mr Gaffney’s head, swelling to his nose which had been bleeding, bruising to the front and back of his upper body and a superficial laceration on his right upper arm [B] when he arrived at accident and emergency in St James’s Hospital.[/B]

    Investigators also photographed blood on Mr Gaffney’s bed, radiator, wall and bedroom door, Mr O’Connell added.

    The jury also heard forensic tests will show blood stains on a baton owned by Murtagh was a million to one times more likely to be a mix of DNA from Owen Gaffney and Eoin Murtagh than from the victim and someone else.

    Mr O’Connell told the jury: “What the prosecution will be asking you to do at the end of the day is infer from DNA evidence that Garda Murtagh was involved in the assault on Owen Gaffney.”

    The barrister revealed there had been conflict between gardaí and Mr Gaffney, who had a history of public order offences, with an altercation the night before the incident.

    “At the time he was a little tearaway when one looks at his criminal convictions,” he added.

    “But even so he was still entitled to the full protection of the law and to be dealt with in full accordance of the law.”

    Read more:

  4. Well who would have thought it!! I eventually found reference to “no arrest” on the RTE site, link below and relevant paragraph below that.
    I was aware there had been no arrest as I was following the trial reports in the papers. A neighbor, as I recall, went to a local shop and bought a disposable camera to record the injuries.

    He said a police officer can only enter a home if they have a warrant or reasonable suspicion that a person on those premises has committed a serious, arrestable offence.
    In this case there was neither a warrant nor was there an arrest, he said.
    Mr O’Connell said gardaí appeared in significant numbers, about nine in all, and Mrs Gaffney asked if they had a warrant.

    Glad to be of assistance:)

  5. yes so how did the case turn out as it did, were the jury directed by the judge to give such a verdict something is been unreported and there’s not one journalist in Ireland willing to investigate it, I can only guess enough mud was thrown at Gaffney for the case to fail, but are all these 9 Gardai going to go back on the force after what they clearly did? Will they get punished at all. What about other gardai in the stations and the supervisors.

  6. Is it time now to look deeper in to ‘gang’ shootings around Dublin? Or is that stretching things? Clearly what we have here is a group of Gardai – not all from the same station – acting in concert to break and enter a home and deal violence out to this young man.


      From ‘The Phoenix’ magazine , July 1983 .

      Eamon Byrne , the 19-year-old Dubliner who was shot dead by a garda detective during an attempted robbery at the B+I terminal in November 1982 , has been disposed of by due bureaucratic process. But it’s unlikely we’ve heard the last of the matter . The dead youth’s teenage widow , Elizabeth , is currently considering an action against the Garda Commissioner and the Officers directly involved in the incident .

      A lot of questions remain unanswered . The coroner’s jury (handpicked by the gardai) returned , on July 5th , 1983 , an ambiguous verdict that Eamon Byrne died of wounds sustained when he was wounded by a detective garda . Verdicts don’t come much more open-ended than that , but there is unlikely to be any follow-up by the authorities into precisely what happened on the Dublin Docks on the morning of November 22nd , 1982 , when Eamon Byrne was shot .

      The new facts established at the inquest only deepen cause for concern . Byrne , for instance , was not armed at the time he was shot . Two detective gardai were grappling with him on the ground when the gun of one of them “…struck Byrne’s head..” and went off , accidentally killing him……

      Thanks to “1169 and counting” where I got the above.

      The now almost forgotten case of Eamon Byrne.
      During inquest the Gardaí had a ballistics expert who testified that if the revolvers trigger was pulled the gun would fire.
      Of course he did not put it quite as simply as that. It was all Lbs. of pressure required for first stage, then same for second stage, then BANG! SHOCK! HORROR! the damm thing fired.

      • It does take pressure to fire a weapon. It’s ‘damn’ hard to squeeze a trigger – impossible with the safety-catch on. Having had lethal weapons, as companions, in my time in the Irish Defence Forces I’ve handled most of them from pistols to assault rifles through to GPMGs and mortars and a few times I’ve been in tense situations and never had I an occasion to use any of the weapons.

        I wouldn’t regard the arrest of an unarmed man as a ‘tense occasion’ either … and if I was involved in such my weapon would have it’s safety catch on at all times. And I’ve also had occasion to be in heavily armoured vehicles with weapons and despite the occasional bump and clang the weapons received in such a vehicle I’ve never heard of one discharging itself.

        Seems to me these Gardai came to a fire-fight knowing they were the only ones with guns!

      • Is this the civilian in the news at the moment? The person Claire daily has been speaking of in the Dail? Has one of the Garda came forward who witnessed this back then? Sounds similar to me…….

  7. Hi guys,

    Just a quick query that you might be able to help with..

    If a Garda commits a physical breach of bodily integrity against you before even telling you why he has stopped you from travelling, are you still obliged to talk to him or to disclose your personal details..?

    I was recently stopped by a garda after being trailed for 4 miles and he lunged at me and tried to undo my seatbelt before stating any basis in law for stopping me.. I was arrested because I didn’t give him my name, and the 2 other Gardaí who arrived to help arrest me have lied in their statements. Basically, they’re trying to set me up in order to cover their tracks..

    It just didn’t feel right that I should have to tell him where my family live after he jumped me for no reason. I can’t afford a solicitor and I do think the Gardaí are going to try rail-road me into a conviction.. I was even handcuffed despite being totally passive..!

    If you had any thoughts or links to relevant legislation etc, I would be extremely grateful..


    • Hi Jamie, sorry about the delay seeing and answering your comment.
      I really don’t think I can be of much help to you, you really need a solicitor with relevant experience to advise you. If you cannot afford one the judge will probably approve free legal aid for you. If it looks like it is not going to be mentioned at your first court appearance ask the judge for free legal aid. And dont forget to look a little in awe of the judge and call him/her “judge” or even “your honour” even if you think they are complete you know whats.. It is a game, a serious game for you, and you got to play the game.
      Some Gardí when it comes right down to it don’t like lying under oath, so it can pay to get as many Gardí as possible and as were involved to give depositions and evidence. A Gard who seems to be anxious to fade into the background or not give evidence might possibly be feeling uneasy about taking the stand and lying. Make sure your Barrister does not let them hide.
      Try to get a solicitor and the best of luck with your case.
      Please let us know how you get on, and don’t forget, your life is a lot bigger than one minor legal tangle, so don’t let the buggers get you down.

  8. These cops are like most cops in ireland , corrupt arrogant with an air of superiority about them ,untouchable and unreliable .

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