The resignation (28/11/17) of Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister (Tainiste) Frances Fitzgerald TD, for failure to address massive police corruption, marks a deepening political crisis in the 26-County Irish State. It has also opened a small but revealing window on the Irish “State Within The State”!
A former Justice Minister, she is the latest victim of an out-of-control, but well-entrenched High Rank police leadership, in a service synonymous with abuse, illegal behaviour, financial “maladministration” and a culture of internal bullying over decades. This is not to mention everyday policing failures like the creation of a million “breath test” statistics which were complete fiction!
The two immediately preceding Police Commissioners were sacked, and an “acting” deputy commissioner is presently installed. Ms Fitzgerald had replaced Justice Minister Alan Shatter TD, who was forced out in the wake of an earlier – and related – scandal. The loss of his crucial Deputy PM seriously weakens the far-right Fine Gael (FG) Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar TD, who rules with the “support” of old conservative enemies, Fianna Fail (FF) in, effectively, a de facto coalition which also includes a rainbow Independent Alliance. This is politely termed the Confidence and Supply Arrangement (FF not voting against the minority government when briefed in advance).
Fitzgerald’s failure to act effectively against Senior Gardaí, who had conspired with a child protection agency and Department of Justice officials to fit up a “Garda Whistle-Blower” with false allegations of child sexual abuse is the direct cause of this latest scandal to threaten “The Arrangement”.
VICTIM OF A BASKET-CASE DEPARTMENT
On his promotion, whistle-blower Sgt. Maurice McCabe had confidentially reported local dysfunctions and corruptions in the management of district policing. Instead of dealing with this, senior officers closed ranks and turned on McCabe, seeking to blacken his name with scandalous lies over almost a decade! Although he came under enormous pressure, he courageously stuck with the truth.
What is now widely referred to as “The Basket-case Department” colluded to discredit this responsible, conscientious, and truthful policeman, assassinating his excellent reputation, leaking false allegations to the press, and deliberately briefing Ministers falsely. Regrettably, such unprincipled abuse, dysfunctional and corrupt behaviour has become characteristic of this self-serving senior police management echelon over many years.
WHO KNEW WHAT, WHEN
Even when recordings provided by Sgt. McCabe emphatically exposed the fabricated allegations made by Garda management which were expressly aimed at smearing him, the unholy alliance of Justice Department and Senior Garda Management have persevered with their plot to ruin him – and apparently may have misinformed successive Ministers – and in turn, the Taoiseach himself. Whether or not the previous Minister (more recently Deputy Prime Minister) had cognisance of this blackguardism remains an unanswered question to be examined by an independent enquiry.
Discrepancy about how much Ms Fitzgerald knew, and when she knew it, lie at the heart of the present crisis, but the same questions must now apply to her successor, the present Minister, Charlie Flanagan TD. Both may have consciously misinformed Taoiseach Varadkar, and his acceptance of her forced resignation begs questions about his own judgement, and, subsequently, of his personal credibility, too. The anti-democratic intrigues of a web of deceit in the Dublin establishment are being laid bare.
WORSE TO COME
Wexford Independent Left TD Mick Wallace, who has stood by Sgt. McCabe, and originally raised many of these questions (and who himself became a target of police abuse) has called for “… a complete clear out of the present Garda Leadership.” In a Dail statement, he also hinted there is much worse to come as this scandal unfolds. The whole rotting fabric of conspiracy by the political and administrative elite is being revealed before a population with 100,000+ homeless, a health service almost in ruins, growing inequality, and facing a Brexit border conundrum which threatens future economic function. Clearly, the privatisation/profiteering marketization championed by the Dail neo-liberal consensus is not working for 99% of the people.
The Republic’s police service, An Garda Síochána (The Guardians of the Peace) was a 1923 rebranding of the notorious and murderous Royal Irish Constabulary, as a new rightist Free State regime seized power, overturning the 1919 Dail (the elected revolutionary government) on the defeat of the revolutionary republican forces in 1922.
THE WESTMINSTER SETTLEMENT
British Arms and Intelligence were handed over to the new counter-revolutionary Cuman Na nGeal power brokers (a direct fore-runner of Fine Gael, often referred to as “Blueshirts” after the blue uniforms of their fascist military wing led by a police commissioner, “General” O’Duffy). Thus the new police force also assumed the role of intelligence service in the new state, as it turned on previous comrades from the War of Independence, a role which has tainted it ever since.
A new question now arises: how long can Varadkar’s Blueshirt coalition survive? Ms Fitzgerald may have fallen on her sword in an effort to prevent the present State’s further disintegration, but this fragile Dail alliance has the smell of death about it, and an election is anticipated early in the New Year, which may well leave the old political elite in an even less happy position, with Sinn Fein now being seen as having comparatively clean hands.
Open warfare within the two conservative coalition parties reflects many similar divisions across Europe. This “Westminster Settlement” of 1922 is beginning to unravel at home. While abroad, the post WW2/Cold War arrangements seem to be crumbling everywhere, under the weight of systemic global indebtedness, social and economic inequality, and an impending new financial crash. And many eyes are beginning to open. The question of a real democracy in Ireland, and what it might look like, is entering the stage for consideration as the ancient Dublin regime fractures.
The revolutionary spirit of the 1919 Dail is reawakening. And we need to work towards:
A REAL DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT IN IRELAND