Tough on crime, or tough on the symptoms of crime?
The Irish Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, appears to have forgotten the role of the Garda Siochana (Irish police force). Surely they’re meant to prevent crime, as well as responding to it?
An article in last Saturday’s Irish Times (April 17th 2004), stated that the minister had said that ‘the increase in gun crime could put at risk the unarmed status of the Garda’. This followed the release of statistics showing a 54 per cent increase in the discharging of firearms in the first three months of this year.
The minister was quoted as saying that “if the present trends continued indefinitely the question would arise as to whether it was sustainable to keep our police force unarmed.” He refers of course to uniformed gardai. While uniformed police in Ireland are not armed, plain-clothes detectives routinely carry firearms.
He told the paper “there is a very clear pattern at the moment of drugs gangs importing firearms with drugs consignments, both are equally as lethal”
“If someone is pumping ?500,000 of cocaine or ?500,000 of heroin into the State, or is going about collecting their debts using firearms, are they any less culpable than somebody who sticks a knife into a fellow outside a pub?”
Now, he does have a point here. More criminals are carrying guns, so the gardai might need to arm themselves for a protection or deterrent.
On the other hand… it seems as if the good minister is responding the symptoms of crime, rather than the causes. If a greater amount of weapons are getting into the country, shouldn’t we be focussed on catching the smugglers, rather than simply preparing the gardai for the subsequent increase in armed criminals? Seems logicial…
The minister’s comments give the impression that this ‘clear pattern’ of heroin and firearms importation is a necessary evil, or simply a run-of-the-mill business that we have to put up with.
Deterent, my arse. Giving the gardai guns isn’t going to stop the bad boys from packing heat. On the contrary, if they think they might get shot at by the average uniformed garda, the gangland types will be more inclined to carry weapons…
Your opinions, please…
The Irish Times: Garda’s unarmed status is threatened, warns McDowell » (login needed)
McDowell gets tough on guns and drugs »
(curiously this article states that he’s opposing calls for gardai to be armed)