Garda Research Institute

Making Policing History: Studies of Garda Violence and Resources for Police Reform

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These texts are written and edited by the Garda Research Institute which is composed of residents, community workers and educators who have both personally experienced Garda violence and have heard countless negative stories about the gardaí.  They came together to examine the role of the gardaí and in particular to spark debate and discussion about who gets targeted by the police and why.

The text is structured in the following way. Following the introduction and a piece on the making of the gardaí, the pamphlet is divided into three sections, the first of which looks at the experience of the policed.  The next section looks at the policing of protest by the gardaí.  The final section looks at responses to policing and examines how grassroots activists and movements have attempted to make the police more accountable.

For ease of reading you can download a PDF of the entire text in A4 format or fold over A5 format.

The Prisoners’ Rights Organisation: a case study in grassroots organising, ‘history from below’ & police accountability

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The Prisoners’ Rights Organisation (PRO) was founded in the early 1970s. Before its dissolution in the late eighties it was in many ways a unique phenomenon - a small but highly energetic grassroots organisation that consistently called public attention to cases of police brutality and misconduct through varied forms of street protest and media work. This article tells the story of the formation and development of the organisation and the ‘hidden history’ of  the PRO’s attempt to make police accountable.

Challenging the gardaí: a personal experience

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The incident - On a Saturday night in July 2008 at about 11pm, I was waiting outside a fast food restaurant in Drumcondra for a friend, when over eight garda vehicles came speeding from a few different directions with their sirens on. They pulled up outside a pub just up the road from where I was. I cycled up to have a look at what was going on. When I got up there, there didn’t seem to be a lot going on. I started to film the line of garda vehicles parked in the centre of the road. I had been filming less than a minute when a guard approached me, demanding that I give him the camera. I put the camera in my pocket and told him it was a public area and I was entitled to film.

Making policing history: different ways of resisting

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How have activists tried to put manners on the police? Which methods have worked? Which might be worth trying? This article is a brief overview of different ways of resisting political and social policing.

Challenging targeted policing: my experiences in the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty

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Mike Harris came to power as Premier of Ontario in 1995. Harris could easily be characterised as ruthless, callous and even authoritarian. One of his first acts as Premier was to slash welfare payments by a whopping 21.6%. Under his “Common Sense Revolution” Harris cancelled funding for affordable housing and curtailed services to the homeless, introduced workfare, repealed pro-labour legislation, brought in tighter eligibility criteria for disability allowance, and introduced legislation in relation to renting and tenants rights that resulted in many more becoming homeless in the process.  Poor people were demonised and cast as scroungers and cheats, with welfare fraud hotlines established to report them.

Appendix - Policing Ireland: some useful resources

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This list is intentionally ‘partitionist’ in that it deals only with police in the “26 counties” as providing material on policing in the “6 counties” would easily treble the length of the guide.

From force to fencing: political policing in the Republic of Ireland

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This essay attempts to describe some of the highlights of the policing of political protest in the Republic of Ireland from the late 1960s to the present day. We may begin with some obvious generalisations: there are differences between Garda policing of protests by ‘respectable’ and ‘non-respectable groups’, and protests by republicans or radicals receive more forceful policing than protests by trade unions or farmers. The difference lies in garda perception of the legitimacy of these protesters, not in the groups’ actual protest behaviour. Farmers were permitted to use disruptive tactics while peaceful marches  were physically attacked. Throughout the period in question we can see Garda response to protester innovations, although responses were not limited to the gardaí. We should note the state legislative response to protest through the passage of laws such as the Forcible Entry Act and successive Criminal Justice Acts broadened Garda powers to intervene in and control protest.

When do the police get away with violence, and why?

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In any society that has a state (and so police, courts, jails, and soldiers) and different classes (the super-rich and homeless people, shopkeepers and professionals, travelling people and farmers etc.), the state treats different classes differently. Many people argue that this is what states are for anyway; but all that matters for the purposes of this article is that this is what actually happens.

Policing the anti-war movement in Ireland

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The following exploration of the policing of the anti-war demonstrations will be in two parts: the first will look at the change in policing through the eyes of a participant, a new activist, while the second will make a more thorough examination of the forces at work which lead to such a massive escalation in the policing of anti-war protest, particularly at Shannon, both on the side of the protesters and that of the gardaí.

Resisting Shell in Mayo and the experience of policing in Erris: an eyewitness account

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The following article is an eyewitness account of policing in Erris in Mayo where protests against Shell construction of a gas refineryare ongoing. The article gives some general background to the protests and details what it was like to see Garda brutality on a regular basis.

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