Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell has said there will be an inquiry into the rioting in Dublin on Saturday and that a full report from the Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy will be put before the Cabinet on Tuesday. I hope he can then come out and explain to the rest of us why An Garda Siochana had prepared for a low key event and that it occurred to no one in authority (north or south) that there could and would be trouble. Yesterday’s militant Irish Republican movement may be riddled with informers, but tomorrow’s obviously isn’t.I can well understand hoping for the best but surely any police force worth its salt should also have prepared for the worst or is common sense no longer a required talent in policing?
I agree with Mick Hall when he said on the blogging the riots blog that “the right to protest is a test of any democracy”.
I also agree that, in the greater scheme of things, this was a minor scuffle, the equivalent of what a Berlin rioter would call “Volkssport”, where the dissillusioned youth (anarchists, revolutionary communists etc.) travel from all over Germany to take on the police and the state for a day on May 1 each year, and inevitably lose eventually against the might of up to 7,000 police officers who guard every building site on the route with riot police and a city authority which spends the weeks beforehand cementing down any loose paving stones.
However, the difference here in Ireland, and accordingly the problem, is that the Gardai lost and the demonstrators won, unless of course you are an anarchist, revolutionary communist etc. Any European police force put in the same situation with the same orders would have cracked skulls to ensure the wishes of the democratically elected government were enforced, however unpalatable, in this instance the march by Love Ulster from Parnell Square to Dail Eireann.
They would have had the thousands of police officers that were obviously necessary on hand to ensure this march took place. No expense would have been spared.
Ireland though either cut corners or doesn’t play by these rules and instead allowed violent demonstrators to prevent a legally sanctioned march to take place.
Whatever way you look at it, the Irish state failed miserably in its duty to uphold democracy in this country.
It is the big loser in this whole affair.
Nothing breeds success like success and those who took on the state on the streets of Dublin at the weekend will be back, stronger, more numerous, bolder and most importantly, better prepared. After all, if Dublin can burn once, then it can burn again.