THE creation of a 25-strong Garda unit in Cork City, specifically with the aim of ensuring water protests do not turn violent, is a blatant example of politicisation of the gardaí.
It defies credulity, following the closure of hundreds of garda stations up and down the country, that such a unit has already been formed, especially when people everywhere are crying out for the men and women in blue to become more visible on the beat. Furthermore, while a spokesman for the GRA, the equivalent of a Garda trade union, could understand the need for such a unit, he warned that garda numbers were so depleted, it would take even more gardaí off the beat.
The fact that protests in Cork City have, by-and-large, been relatively timid affairs, at least compared to Dublin where violence has broken out in some areas, makes the thinking behind this move even harder to understand. If anything, according to protestors against the installation of water meters, the garda presence can sometimes add to the tension, effectively turning a peaceful demonstration into a flashpoint.
By any yardstick, the manpower involved in this new unit, which became operational in recent days and is made up of 20 gardaí, four sergeants and an inspector, represents a costly affair. Arguably, the money could be better spent patrolling urban areas prone to burgling. With a general election looming, obviously real politic makes the sight of protesters on the streets anathema to this shameless government.
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