It’s hard to remember a time when there wasn’t a row over garda resources.
There’s one right now in the context of the attacks and threats to the executives of the Quinn group on and near the border.
But I remember one way back in the seventies.
I don’t think this story was a set up – but it certainly suited the campaign of the then newly established Garda Representative Association as they fought cuts in garda resources.
At the time, I covered Kilmainham Court for the Evening Herald.
Judge James O’Sullivan, a quite brilliant man and extraordinarily fair judge, presided.
On this occasion, there was a man charged with drunken driving as we then called it.
A garda gave evidence of stopping the man’s car somewhere in the Rathcoole area of Dublin.
He told the judge he formed the view that the man was drunk and planned to bring him to the garda station to be formally charged.
Only he couldn’t.
Judge O’Sullivan asked why.
Well, the garda said, due to cutbacks, our squad cars are currently manned by only one garda. “I didn’t think it safe to travel with the prisoner in the back of the car without another garda to keep an eye on him,” he said.
So, he told the judge, he radioed in for another car to come to his assistance.
And another car duly arrived.
Only the driver of this squad car said he couldn’t escort the prisoner in the first squad car because it would mean leaving his car unattended in a remote area.
So he radioed in.
And another squad car duly arrived. This car contained two Gardai, one to mind the empty squad car and the other to go back on duty and keep the peace!
So to take one drunken driver back to the station, three squad cars and three gardai were required: one garda to drive the first squad car and make the arrest, one garda to sit with the prisoner in the back of the car for the journey back to the station, one garda to mind his squad car, and the squad car belonging to the Garda now sitting in the back of the first car minding the drunk – at least until another garda, presumably in another car, could come to bring the car back to the station.
So in the heel of the hunt, FIVE gardai and THREE cars were required to bring ONE drunken driver to the station.
Judge O’Sullivan kept a straight face but you could tell that he was happy to let the garda tell the story and make the point. I’m pretty sure that he glanced over at me once or twice to make sure I was writing it all down.
I was. And so I had the pleasure of reporting the whole insane saga!
And didn’t the Gardai love me for it.