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Changes Needed All Over

Eamonn McCann • 13 August 2005

One of the differences between policing scandals in the North and in the South is that policing in the North has always been intimately bound up with a corrupt political system.

Thus, it required deep-seated political change, and not just reform of policing, to deal with the problem up here.

In the South, on the other hand, it’s widely been taken for granted that corruption in the gardai didn’t reflect any malaise in society generally. So, curing the corruption wasn’t contingent on wider political change. Policing problems could be contained in a way which wasn’t possible in the North.

Naturally, then, debate about how to respond to the revelations at the Morris Tribunal has centred on the contents of a new policing bill and on suggestions of the need for an ombudsman. There’s been no talk of any need for a new political dispensation.

But let’s listen for a moment to Karen McGlinchey, daughter of Bernard, senator and long-time Fianna Fail kingpin in Donegal north east, as she recalls home-life in Letterkenny in the halcyon years before garda scandal engulfed the family.

“The home had an open door for callers at all times of the day or night. Deals were done, backs were slapped and favours rendered. Someone‘s daughter may have needed an interview panel squared, or a problematic planning application required the intervention of the Senator. Nothing was impossible.”

Not only was it possible to bend the law, new law could even be enacted to meet the needs of the favoured few. This was so routine that Bernard McGlinchey, in an interview marking his retirement from public life a few years back, told the Donegal Democrat how he’d secured a licence for his Golden Grill night-spot in Letterkenny.

“The law at the time stated that you had to prove the population of the civil parish had increased by thirty three and a third percent. While the population of Letterkenny had doubled, the area stretched out to Glenswilly and Churchhill, and as such my application for the licence would not have been granted.

“My solicitor said he had bad news for me---the law was against me. Well, I said back to him, if the law is against me, we’ll have to change the law. I was in the Senate at the time and Charlie Haughey was Minister for Justice and finalising the new Liquor Act. He inserted a sub-section which changed the law in the urban area.”

Karen McGlinchey recalls that her father “used to refer jokingly to the amendment, section 19 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1962, as ‘the McGlinchey Act‘.”

The culture of “the pint or the transfer” was dominant in Donegal, as elsewhere across the 26 counties. “Most guards recognised that if they wanted to climb the ladder of success within the force, crossing swords with Bernard McGlinchey was not going to augur well. Gardai moved in concentric circles around him. Those on the outer edge were desperate to become members of the inner sanctum. At any opportunity which might present itself, the ambitious guard was ready, poised and waiting to pounce…“

The role of Karen’s sister, Adrienne, in the Donegal events has still not been satisfactorily explained----despite extensive evidence from her and relating to her at the Morris hearings. It’s clear from Karen’s book, however---”Charades”, published by Gill and Macmillan---that it was the cross-over between business and politics, particularly Fianna Fail politics, which generated the acrid atmosphere in which gardai reckoned that only losers regarded the law as sacrosanct, and that they could go to any lengths to win favour for their political masters---in the expectation of advancement for themselves if they delivered.

The corruption which eroded all respect for law and justice in the Donegal gardai had seeped in from surrounding society. The role of the garda siochana was (is) to defend a society in which the interests of the rich took precedence over law, justice and the will of the people. And the gardai knew it. That---and not the personal ambition of individual guards---was the source of the corruption.

The changes needed in the South are every bit as profound those required in the North.













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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

17 August 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Changes Needed All Over
Eamonn McCann

Get Tough Now
Dr John Coulter

What for the Future?
Mick Hall

Why has Gerry Adams never finished Ulysses?
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Bombing London is No Longer Good News for the IRA
Anthony McIntyre

The Conflict Encapsulated
David Adams

No More Second Class Citizens
Paul Little

Nothing Has Changed
Anthony McIntyre

Venezuela: Lessons of Struggle
Tomas Gorman

10 August 2005

Failed Entity
Anthony McIntyre

Towards Justice: Damien Walsh Lecture
Fr Sean Mc Manus

Where Terror Reigns
Fred A Wilcox

Lack of Trust — Or Courage?
Mick Hall

Process of Consulting Loses Sway
David Adams

Unionism Can't Run on Empey
Anthony McIntyre

Another Side to the Surrender
Brian Mór

Provisional Surrender A Sell-Out
Joe Dillon

The Greatest Betrayal of All
Proinsias O'Loinsaigh

Censorship at the Irish Echo
John McDonagh & Brian Mór

Take Ireland Out of the War: Irish Anti War Movement News
Michael Youlton

Venezuela: Factories Without Bosses
Tomas Gorman



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