Michael O'Boyce, President of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), said at its annual conference in Limerick, at the end of April, 2010, that the Irish Government had been 'corrupted' and had been 'bought' by developers and bankers. (A garda is an Irish policeman, gardaÃ in the plural.)
Smarting from recent government disparagement of the gardaÃ a rankled Mr. O'Boyce pointed to an aggravating Fianna Fa'il gaffe. While the government referred to the gardaÃ as 'self-serving, overpaid, underworked and dishonest people', it at the same time praised the 'entrepreneurial skill' and 'business acumen' of failed banksters like Sean Fitzpatrick (Anglo Irish Bank) and Michael Fingleton (Irish Nationwide Building Society), two people who played a huge part in bringing the Irish economy to its knees.
Clearly infuriated by collapsing living standards and the abject state of the economy, Mr. O'Boyce intended to deliver his speech directly to the Minister of Justice, Dermot Ahern, who was scheduled to attend the annual conference of the GRA. However, Mr. Ahern was sent a copy of the speech in advance and hastily declined to attend.
Mr. O'Boyce would have castigated the Justice Minister directly by saying, "The Government of which you are a long-serving member has mismanaged the wealth of this country for more than a decade by allowing our assets to be plundered and robbed by bankers and speculators, and you are making generations of Irish workers pay the price for this treachery...
GardaÃ present at the meeting gave Mr. O'Boyce a standing ovation for the speech of which they were aware but which was never actually made. Nonetheless, the speech was angrily criticised by politicians and others who said that a police force should not intervene in politics. Justice Minister Ahern said that he utterly refuted the allegations made in the speech and that such remarks "besmirch the reputation of the force and have no place in a modern democracy."
Government backbencher Niall Collins said, "...[F]or me to hear a member of An Garda SÃocha'na accuse a sovereign Government of robbery, corruption and treason, and this coming from a member of An Garda SÃocha'na who are the agents of the State to investigate and prosecute these types of crimes, it's just clearly not sustainable."
This is an amazing attack on a modern democratic government described by the country's own police association as "a government of national sabotage." What prompted such wrath and fury from the GRA and does the Association have any basis for charging the Irish Government with treachery or treason?
The underlying cause of garda frustration and anger is the state of the Irish economy. The gardaÃ, like most Irish citizens, blame government incompetence and collusion with banksters and speculators for economic collapse. The government itself points to global recession and international bank failures as the cause of Irish woes but the reality goes much deeper than that.
The economic depression in Ireland is much more severe than anywhere else in the world. The fallout from global recession was seriously exacerbated by shortcomings of Irish Government Ministers, i.e., flagrant failures of governance through incompetence, self-interest, and criminal recklessness. These failures were further amplified by the cronyism and cosy intimacy of Fianna Fa'il politicians with bankers and developers, by the utter ineptitude of government regulators, and by the laissez-faire attitude of the then Finance Minister, Brian Cowen, towards an alarmingly inflating construction bubble. (Cowen is now the Irish Prime Minister or Taoiseach and is stubbornly clinging onto power even though his personal rating is a paltry 18% in opinion polls.)
What angers the GRA, apart from hair shirt budgets, welfare cuts, and cuts in public sector pay, are the huge amounts of money given to renegade banks. These astronomical sums, cavalierly tossed into the laps of fraudulent bankers, are underwritten by the ever-suffering Irish taxpayer. A massive 22 billion euro has gone into the corrupt Anglo Irish Bank which has the dubious distinction of being the worst bank in the world. It is the biggest loss-maker of any bank on the planet and the Irish bank bailout is the most expensive bailout anywhere on the globe.
Responding to a recent government decision to extend the bank guarantee to Anglo Irish Bank, Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said, "I believe that the decision was made to save the skins of a number of individuals, some of whom are connected to Fianna Fail. If my belief is correct, and I have not been convinced to the contrary, then that decision was an act of economic treason."
Strong words indeed from Mr. Gilmore which echo the sentiments of Michael O'Boyce and the GRA.