Gardaí set to serve in Northern Ireland

An agreement allowing for police officers from the Irish Republic to serve in Northern Ireland and vice versa is to be signed Monday.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde and Noel Conroy, Commissioner of the Garda Siochana will sign joint protocols at Hillsborough which allow personnel exchanges and secondments between the forces.

The signing, at Hillsborough Castle in Co Down, will be attended by the Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy and Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell.

The exchanges were first recommended in the Patten Report and the Irish and British governments carried forward the idea in an inter-governmental agreement on policing which they signed in 2002.

Is this a politically motivated cross-border scheme or just a necessary part of good policing on the island of Ireland?

  • Jacko

    Great development, about time too. Criminality knows or recognises no borders, neither should policing.

  • Davros

    No mention of the language issue.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Maybe the first step would be to send a team of detectives to the S Strand. People might find it more comfortable to deal with those police officers.

  • George

    The PSNI officers won’t become members of the Gardai Davros, they will be on secondment.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    No mention of the language issue, says Davros.

    he spoke too soon….

    I just hope that there will be Irish speakers among the Gardaí coming north. It’ll be refreshing at the very least .

  • Malachy

    Sounds great. I bet it will help bring the PSNI up to the exemplary standards of policing seen in the south – especially to the great police presence and visibility there.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    I’d suggest that very few Gardai speak Irish to any significant degree, let alone use it in any form during their day to day work.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Malachy, exemplary policing in the South ? There was a scandal in Donegal recently concerning the police there planting explosives to secure convictions, and there are other scandals involving the Omagh bombing investigation. There are parts of Dublin where the police are resented because they are perceived as being middle class. There’s nothing unsurprising to me about any of that, there is corruption to one degree or another in police forces, and no-go areas for those police forces, all over the world and Ireland is no exception.

  • alex s

    I suspect that any Garda seconded with the PSNI and vice a versa will have a background in accountancy

  • Young Irelander

    It is a great development.

  • Beowulf

    Is this a politically motivated cross-border scheme or just a necessary part of good policing on the island of Ireland?

    Just good policing. We already second officers from other nations, why not the one next door.

  • George

    Alexs,
    is there any particular reason why you believe the Gardai sent would have a knowledge of accountancy? They do have other talents.

    For example, a senior garda will be sent by the Government on a UN mission to investigate the killing of the former Lebanon prime minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut at the beginning of the week.

    Deputy Commissioner Peter Fitzgerald will compile a report on the incident for the UN Security Council.

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    Your suggestion underlines your profound anti Irish bigotry Mr Christ.

    The point is that Gardaí are taught Irish and have to pass a test which equips them with one of the tools necessary for dealing courteously and respectfully with people who do speak Irish in the 26 Counties. Apparently courtesy and respect for Irish culture and language are not necessary for the PSNI.

    I’m glad therefore that Gardaí, who have this qualification, will now be working in the north and perhaps Irish speakers can expect some degree of courtesy and respect from these officers.

    Either way I expect them to be more openminded and less bigoted than the mindset which you and the PSNI display.

  • Davros

    Gosh OC – what will happen to those PSNI officers seconded to the Gardai ? Will they be accompanied by an interpreter and who will pay for the interpreter?

  • Occasional Commenter

    And what about Ulster Scots? Will there be calls for the PSNI to have to learn it?

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    I don’t know about language interpreters but they could of course be accompanied by human rights and policing experts as there’s considerable doubt over PSNI competence in either….

  • mnob

    Oilbhéar is it right that you meet bigotry with bogotry ?

    The PSNI (one of the most publicly accountable forces in the British Isles) are required to undergo cultural awareness training in order to understand the rights and expectations of all groupings in Northern Ireland.

    Additionally I know personally at least two PSNI officers with more knowledge of the Irish Language than Gerry Adams.

  • mnob

    … erm that was meant to say ‘bigotry with bigotry’

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    Oilbhéar Chromaill, I think I’ve said to you before that I am Irish. I have an Irish passport. How can you call me an anti-Irish bigot ? Unless you’re accusing me of self-hatred.

    I have examinations in Irish which I passed while at school, I understand the basic bits of the language but I’d have difficulty carrying on a full scale conversation in it, the main reason for this is that there are few places in the country where English isn’t spoken. I suspect this is the same for the Gardai and I strongly suspect that if the majority of officers were put in the position where they had to deal with an exclusively Irish speaking population they’d fail miserably.

    Police officers on either side of the border are expected to show courtesy and respect irrespective of any cultural requirements. It’s not anyone else’s problem if your hangups about the absence of Irish on a poster in a police station somewhere mean the police are a pack of ignorant gits. I bet if I went to a police station anywhere in Ireland I could find the absence of Irish to be a matter of course, and I bet if I went in to make a complaint or a statement in Irish I’d get blank stares.

  • James

    “Will they be accompanied by an interpreter”

    What? All the nordies comming from Derry?

  • Alan2

    “The point is that Gardaí are taught Irish and have to pass a test which equips them with one of the tools necessary for dealing courteously and respectfully with people who do speak Irish in the 26 Counties.”

    Not for very much longer. The requirement is under review in order to faciliate the recruitment of ethnic minorities and sections of the Irish population who find the Irish language requirment a barrier.

  • maca

    To explore what Oilbhéar is getting at, twould be nice if finally Irish speakers in the North could get services through Irish, even if it is in the form of a few Garda Shicalonies.
    Although, i doubt too many of the few Gardaí heading North are fluent speakers. Could be arranged though, perhaps.!?!

    Alan
    “..and sections of the Irish population who find the Irish language requirment a barrier.”

    In truth it’s a barrier for very few, except new arrivals of course.
    Although, an overhaul of the system would be no harm.

    Roger & Alan
    A relevant piece concerning Irish requirement & Garda stayshuns.

    Official Languages Act 2003
    Part 3, Section 13,
    Item 2 In preparing a draft scheme the public body shall-
    (c) ensure that an adequate number of its staff are competent in the Irish language so as to be able to provide its service through Irish as well as English,
    (e) ensure that the Irish language becomes the working language in its offices in the Gaeltacht not later than such date as may be determined by it with the consent of the Minister.

    And if they don’t follow through the “Oifig Choimisinéir na dTeangacha Oifigiúla” will be called into action.

  • George

    Alan2,
    I don’t know if the new legislation is just an exemption in that those educated through the Irish education system would still need the Irish language.

    For example, foreign children can get exemptions from learning Irish in school.

    Either way, those police officers interested in being in a position to allow Irish speakers the right to do business in their own language could always get in touch with the Garda Irish Language development unit which has been set up to help provide access to the service through Irish in the area of “crime investigation, telephone communication, public correspondence, law enforcement, talks to the public and school visits. Services are sought on patrol, at public offices and by the media.”

    Perhaps the PSNI should consider setting up a similar unit for those PSNI officers who want to deal through Irish?

  • Davros

    If there were Gardai, Irish Speaking or otherwise, available locally to the people of Short Strand would those guilty of that murder now be in custody ? I think not. And are SF starting to pave the way for a campaign of boycott against the Gardai here in the North and in the ROI ?

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    I personally wouldn’t have any problem co-operating with a Garda – as long as he was wearing his Garda uniform.
    On the question of people providing information with respect to the killing of Robert McCartney I think the proposal, approved by the PSNI in other areas, that people speak with their legal representatives etc if they don’t want to deal with the police directly, is the most sensible way forward.
    That is of course if you genuinely want the killers of Robert McCartney brought to justice rather than heaping further abuse on the murdered man by using his brutal slaying to try to demonise and criminalise Sinn Féin.

  • Alan2

    George – I have no problems with the Gardai and indeed the PSNI setting up services for various languages. Irish should be fostered just as Welsh, Scots, Scots Gaelic, Cornish and Manx(extinct now?) are. The problem I have is making it compulsory. I am totally rubbish at languages. I can speak pidgin German and count to five in French and that is it. I can recognise a few words of Irish but I simply am not a linguist. An interesting parallel is French in Canada. I see dual language signs are now required by law in Toronto. The local transport system is having to fork out millions to redo all their signs.

  • George

    Alan2,
    it is compulsory because it is an official language of the country, no other reason. The new legislation reflects our changing society, we now have a lot of people from Eastern Europe and Africa living here who need to be included.

    I personally don’t believe excluding Irish speakers should be the price for inclusion of our new citizens so I hope the Irish Language development Unit serves its purpose and we can deliver for both.

    Some may feel that Irish doesn’t have a right to be an official language of Ireland but the people of Ireland, as stated in the nation’s constitution do.

    It is the duty of every Irish citizen to uphold the constitution.

    By the way, Manx and Cornish are extinct.

  • Davros

    On the question of people providing information with respect to the killing of Robert McCartney I think the proposal, approved by the PSNI in other areas, that people speak with their legal representatives etc if they don’t want to deal with the police directly, is the most sensible way forward.

    Does anybody know would a statement given to a lawyer be admissable in court ?

  • George

    Davros,
    from listening to Alex Maskey on talkback, my understanding is that it is admissible in court.

  • Jimmy Sands

    For practical purposes the answer is almost certainly no, as I suspect Maskey well knows.

  • Davros

    George – that’s the SF line – elsewhere I have read it claimed that it’s a con and that the statements as worthless in court.

  • George

    Not being smart Davros but all I can find on the internet are pieces about the alteration of witness statements by the Northern Irish authorities.

  • Jimmy Sands

    There is no short cut. A conviction requires someone to stand up in Court. I think at this stage it must be clear to all but the most purblind that this simply will not be permitted.

  • Rick

    I agree with Jimmy Sands that you must have testimony live in court in order for there to be a conviction.

  • Moses

    Manx is not extinct.

    Children are once again being brought up as native Manx speakers from birth. The language is pure as it is based on texts and audio recordings from the last true native speakers (whos parents were also native speakers).

    In fact, when Ned Maddrell (often called the last native speaker of Manx) died in 1974, there were a couple hundred fluent speakers of the language who had picked it up later in life.