Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The yellow-packing continues…

So, Oberstfuhrer McDowell wants to introduce a Garda reserves force who will (and I love this quote from today’s Examiner) “have powers of arrest, search and detention broadly similar to powers enjoyed by Gardaí.”

Powers enjoyed by the Gardaí! Oh, where do I begin?

What’re ye up the weekend, lads?”, queries Ordinary Punter.
“Well”, reply Garda Liam and Reservist Paidí in unison, “we thought we’d go out and enjoy a bit of auld arrestin’, some unwarranted searchin’, slap a few fines on unsuspectin’ motorists using our new random breath testin’ technique, and generally lark about. What about yerself?”
“Eh….I think I’ll just stay in if that’s the case.”

The problems with this reserve force have been well covered in the meeja and rightly so. I am absolutely against this for a number of reasons.

It is a manifestation of the worst kind of role downgrading that seems to be the modus operandi of the entire economy, public and private sectors both, right now. And where have we seen this before? That’s right: the teachers underwent a similar undermining of their role in society with the introduction of class room assistants back in 2000. It really is a cheap and nasty way of meeting election promises without actually spending any money. On paper, that is. In practice, according to Ivana Bacik (she’s likely to know more than me on this one!), it will actually increase the number of cases taken against the state for unlawful arrest, abuse of powers etc, and may also jeopardize the successful closure of many prosecutions, on which the “real” Gardaí have expended time and resources at public expense.

Regarding the case of teachers, class room assistants ended up being paid for providing the same service that teachers had actually done for free, such as after-school supervision etc. This created all sorts of tension in the staff-rooms of schools up and down the country, and probably did very little to improve the general quality of second level education, other than reducing it to “crowd control”.

The tax payer will have to cough up in some way or other for this reserve force scheme, too. Who will benefit from this scenario? Probably those lawyer friends of McDowell, as they receive case after case on their books. This could work out, in reality, to be a method of using voluntary labour to create private wealth for a coterie of lawyers, without affecting the Dept. of Justice budgets, and blinding the public into thinking that “justice is being served” and election promises met. Not that I’m paranoid in any way, you understand, but it is genius, you have to admit.

In essence, this type of scheme is akin to the rampant outsourcing going on in private companies all the time – it looks great on paper for the company concerned, while the wider tax-paying community picks up the tab. This is what is happening with the pension scenario at the moment, and all that hoopla over the impending pensions crisis requiring an SSIA type remedy to be introduced by the Irish Government. The companies get off having to supply pensions and benefit packages to Irish employees, this reduces cost per employee, while the tax payer pays at the other end. Tax payers, many of whom, are outsourced to begin with! Very creative.
In the case of the public sector, tax-payer pays any way. The trick here is not to know what we are paying for at any particular point in time - it looks great when you can say you have a budget surplus today, as politicians don't get elected on the basis of long term effects unless the policy is obvious at the time.

If those who enlist in the reserves do so on a voluntary basis, without pay, what type of person will apply? There are bound to be some who are well meaning, but my money is on those who have a grudge against neighbours or severe personality issues surrounding a need to exercise power over fellow citizens. According to coverage on Newstalk this morning they will also “enjoy” their powers of arrest when off duty, just as a rank and file Garda would. This is open to all sorts of abuse. Apparently a weekend’s training will suffice for these reservists? You can’t learn how to adequately use MS excel in a weekend, let alone understand the application of the finer points of Garda powers!

Maurice Pratt has a lot to answer for….

EDIT: See The Dossing Times for more on this reserve Gardaí conundrum.


Blogger shaner said...

You know what, you almost had me agreeing with you there. Then you had to ruin it by mentioning a Trinity Law lecturer.

Sure, there'll be the militant reservists. There to make a point about how good they look in a pair of combat boots and the ultra-flash Garda bomber jacket and generally vent their malice on unsupecting knackers and scumbags in the street. Then there'll be the neighbourhood watch oldies. "You're not having that in our 'hood, roysh!?" But the majority of people that will join this 'force' will probably be honest people looking to make a difference.

And forget the tax argument, if you're sick of paying tax, stop.

I reserve the right to be as inflamatory as possible.

19 January, 2006 00:02  

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