Garda goes AMA on Reddit – lively debate about state of policing in Ireland ensues

19 Sep 2012

In an unprecedented move a serving member of Ireland’s police force, An Garda Siochana conducted an ask-me-anything (AMA) conversation on Reddit this week that gave an insight into the views of ordinary gardai on crime issues ranging from gun crime to alcoholism and violence on the streets.

The tone of the conversation between the various Redditors elicited curiosity and sympathy from the public in light of the plight facing the nation’s police in terms of a rise in violent crime amidst government cutbacks. The AMA generated 639 comments.

But the responses from the officer, who went by the handle ‘Magnum_ip’, communicated a stoical attitude in the force and dedication to the task at hand despite budget cuts and worsening resource issues.

From the conversations with the garda on Reddit it is clear that concerns about gun crime run through the force. Considering the murder of two policewomen in the UK this week, serving gardai are worried that the debate surrounding the arming of officers could be decided if matters come to a head in a violent manner.

The garda also expressed his/her belief that the force’s workload could be halved if alcohol and substance abuse were taken out of the equation.

The conversations had an earnest and often humorous side to them where matters like the much-lampooned Irish garda pronunciation of “vehicle” came up for discussion.

‘Magnum_ip’ quotes

Here are a few of the things ‘Magnum_ip said during his/her  AMA:

“A few years ago I would have been against arming the service, but now I think we should be. I would certainly feel safer if we were and contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe that the criminals would arm themselves in response, they already have. In the last couple of years it is not unusual to search vehicles and homes and recover firearms. Sadly one or more of us will have to die before things change.”

“I have found that the public are mostly friendly but a little distant, over here at the moment the government are cutting back on resources and closing stations, cutting back on vehicles and equipment and I think we have been demonised a little in the media and this has driven a bit of wedge between us and the community. Where I work burglaries have increased and as we only have one Patrol car, our presence (apart from beat patrols) has decreased and the public seem to think that its as a result of disinterest or laziness on our part.”

“If you took alcohol and substance abuse in general out of the equation my workload would halve overnight. Recreational rioting has long been viewed as a right in this country and swinging off a Guard after you’ve had a few too many was long viewed as vital part of a successful nights festivities. Pepper spray has levelled the playing field somewhat in this regard, the Irish drunk does not like being seasoned. Although to be fair to my countrymen and women, almost everyone is repentant and apologetic when released in the morning.”

“Unfortunately putting on a uniform doesn’t make a person less of a pr**k quite the opposite in some cases.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years