Sadly, this week’s contribution isn’t full of sweetness and light – however, the next few weeks of feelgood topics already lined up will compensate for the harder line being pursued on this occasion.
If there’s a political party out there that is actually serious about protecting the elderly in their homes, be they living in urban or rural communities, there’s a vote going in The Munster Express.
The obsession with the economy (rightly or wrongly, we’re as obsessed with the current downturn as we were with the past decade’s largesse) has been at the expense of a thorough, meaningful debate on law and order.
Other than refusing to enter coalition with Sinn Féin or saying no to nuclear power, does a single other hardline party political position spring to mind?
Law and order has rarely been addressed in a genuine societal-enhancing manner in this country.
Indeed, the only wide-ranging stance ever taken here materialised in the wake of the Civil War, when Cumann na nGaedhael brought law and order to the Free State, albeit at the cost of many lives.
The circumstances of the country were radically different almost 90 years ago: the country was still rife with post-Civil War strife, with many households irreparably torn apart.
Socially, it was an altogether different Ireland: hooded teenagers didn’t stand on street corners, while elderly people didn’t fear for their safety from within their own homes.
Gangsters tended to inhabit the tomes of Raymond Chandler (the famed novelist with strong Waterford connections) rather than the palatial splendour that some of today’s criminals now live in.
A Government determined to enforce the law did so – in so doing, Waterford-born Richard Mulcahy arguably denied himself the Taoiseach’s post when the first coalition was formed in 1948.
While WT Cosgrave’s trenchant stance on execution remains unpalatable to civil libertarians, there’s no denying that a certain proportion of today’s population mightn’t find the following sentiments too disagreeable.
“What do we want? We want simply order restored to this country. We want all arms under the control of the people who elected us and who can throw us out tomorrow if they so desire.
“We want that the people of this country only shall have the right to say who are to be armed and who are not; and we are going to get the arms if we have to search every house in the country.
“People who rob with arms are going to be brought before military courts and found guilty.
“Persons robbing at the point of the gun will be executed without discrimination. This is going to be a fair law, fairly administered and administered in the best interests of the country for the preservation of the fabric of society.
“We are going to see that the rule of democracy will be maintained no matter what the cost and no matter who the intellectuals that may fall by reason of the assertion of that right.”
These were the words of Cosgrave following the 1922 execution of Erskine Childers for carrying Michael Collins’s gun, a gift bestowed upon Childers by ‘The Big Fellow’ himself.
The point? As leader of the country, irrespective of his own personal feelings on the issue, Cosgrave believed that the rule of democracy had to be maintained “no matter what the cost”.
No matter what the cost. Can you imagine any Irish party leader today taking such a stance today to ensure that the rule of law was upheld? If such a party is represented inside the Houses of the Oireachtas today, they’ve been keeping remarkably quiet.
Cosgrave’s deeds, however grisly, matched his words, something that neither supporter nor dissenter can dispute.
Personally, adopting the ‘eye for an eye’ approach carries potentially disastrous implications for any society: we need only look to Northern Ireland to see what recrimination led to for three blood-spilt decades.
But here’s the rub: the courts are filled with repeat offenders, literally grinning at the Gardaí who’ve arrested them, swanning down the steps with nothing more than a judicial finger wag as punishment.
Where is the justice for families who have lost their loved ones in tragic circumstances, those who have lost a parent, a grandparent or a spouse attacked in their own homes?
Where also is the incentive for Gardaí to pursue the repeat offender, the local gobshite who kicks in doors, repeatedly breaks wing mirrors and causes untold grief to communities?
I met a Garda last week, a man who thoroughly enjoys his job, going on the beat, getting to know the lie of the land he patrols. In other words, he’s a community officer, a throwback to a different age. He’s the type of Garda we need more of.
An Garda Síochána has been stymied in the course of its work for several decades by successive spineless governments devoid of a genuine commitment to take on local gobshites and gangsters in a genuinely hardline way.
After all, how many more killings, beatings, muggings and burglaries is it going to take before the necessary action Waterford and Ireland needs is brought about?