He then proceeded to tell me about the many runs he had done, bringing in cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis and firearms. Massive amounts of drugs were coming in and quantities were allowed to get into the hands of the criminal gang. He told me how he was being well looked after financially by both the criminal gang and the gardaí.
He then went on to tell me where he had left a handgun in a wooden area in Cork. He contacted a particular detective sergeant and told him of the location, and drawing a map in the area pinpointed it. On finding the location, two gardaí threw in a number of firearms to beef up the find. He explained that the press reported it as a subversive arms find. When I asked him why they would do this, he replied, “To further their careers in the force.”‘
Above is an excerpt of testimony from retired Garda Jack Doyle, which was read into the Dáil record by Mick Wallace the other day.
The drugs, and the terrorism. Yes, terrorism. If you make the public fear the threat of terrorist violence, from dark ‘subversive’ forces, and there is no grounds for fearing such a threat, because it does not exist, you are engaging in terrorism.
We don’t think about it that way, however. We have been conditioned to see terrorism as simply the acts of people whom Pope John Paul II referred to as “the men of violence”. (Police forces are “men of violence too, they just carry it out on behalf of the State)
Terrorism is acts intended to make a community afraid, to make any member of that community feel that they could be on the receiving end of a form of violence: assassination, shooting, bombing; beatings, arson. These are acts of violence intended to produce terror throughout the community. They are intended to drive the community to behave in particular ways, not only to be fearful but also to stop doing certain things and giving support to other things.
So, if a Garda tells the public that there are “subversives” at work, and that they have guns, and that luckily brave Gardaí are on the case, when no such thing is happening, they may well be furthering their own careers in their mind, but they are also engaging in terrorism.
When I read that testimony yesterday, I thought. how many other acts of terrorism have been committed by members of the Gardaí and of other State bodies over the years? You know, things like intercepted arms finds attributed to “subversives”, “suspect devices” that needed the bomb squad to come in. And then, more insidiously, briefings to the press intended to make the public believe they would be faced with a cataclysm of terror, from the Provisional IRA, from ‘dissident’ republican splinter groups, from Al Qaida -and maybe all of them at the same time- if not for the brave cops.
I grew up in a society in which the news every night was filled with ‘terrorists’. You would be stopped at checkpoints and there would be signs up that read ‘blame the terrorists’. You would walk out the front door and there would be a soldier crouched in front of the house opposite, pointing a rifle. Sometimes you would get a soldier pointing his rifle at you -all the better to see you with. You would see patrols of police in bullet proof vests and carrying machine guns walking up and down the street. There would be bomb scares where you had to leave the shop or the area you were in.
All of these things, day in day out, year in year out, condition you to think and act in particular ways. You don’t even realise it is happening. I remember the day the checkpoints started to be dismantled and all of a sudden you were in a car going up or down a street that had always been blocked off -it was as if a physical weight had been lifted off my shoulders, and then there was the feeling at night that you no longer had to walk along roads tensed and ready to run like blazes, in case a car pulled up and someone got out of it with a gun and shot you dead.
People in power often speak of those times as the dark days of the past. Let’s not go back to the dark days of the past and let’s have a brighter future, they say. But the truth is that all the time these “dark days” were supposed to be happening, there was lots of light too. Not a light cast by people trying to shape a kind of normality, but the everyday light that comes from doing everyday things, whether at home or at work or in school or out and about. And when people talk about the dark days of the past, they often ignore how the people most affected by the violence of that time can still have dark days that still stretch right into the present.
One of the things I remember, from these ‘dark days’, well, I can’t really remember it at all because I never really noticed it at the time. So I can only describe it as a feeling: the feeling that you were living somewhere that for all the wider problems, whenever it was going to get better, it was going to build on the things that were already good about the place. Things everyone my age at least pretty much took for granted: you would go to school and university and not have to pay anything, you would go to the doctor or the hospital and you would get the treatment you needed because that was your right as a human being. In fact I don’t think I even considered it in such philosophical terms: you got seen to because everyone got seen to and that was that.
But now I think about this idea that everyone has the same right to receive treatment based on their medical needs, and look at what is going on in southern society, and think that people in power want to bury this idea -and broader principles of democratic equality-altogether. They will never tell you that they are not in favour of these things. If they are seeking election, of course, they will tell you anything. But when it comes to a choice between what the banks want, what the markets want, and what these principles demand, the banks and markets win every time. And the banks and the markets always have to win, because it is in the general interest, the public interest, the national interest, that they win. For now. Then, sometime, something called a “fairer deal” can be struck.
The means by which these principles are being buried right now is, quite simply, terrorism. The rights of banks are being enforced and the population is being terrorised by the consequences and implications. Yesterday I read a story in the papers about a 5 year old girl with cerebral palsy who has had her medical card withdrawn, because of cuts to the health service, cuts that people in power insist are inevitable, necessary and a positive step. Of course they will never tell a 5 year old girl with cerebral palsy that we won’t be paying towards her health care any more, or someone with terminal cancer. But they will announce to the public that they are the ones making the tough choices, getting the country back on track.
Getting the country back on track -through terror and fear. And all the while posing as the heroes saving the public from catastrophe, from those who would lead us back to “the dark days”. Not only the terror experienced by people who have now lost their medical cards, their welfare payments, their jobs and their homes, but the terror of those who fear losing them in the future, and those who see what they are prepared to do to five year old girls with cerebral palsy, and feeling as if no-one seems willing to shout stop, that it is each to their own.
Ireland 2014: Who are the terrorists?