Ten Years On

Sometimes, it’s worth remembering how far we’ve come. ‘Looking back over the past decade, the landscape of policing in Northern Ireland has been transformed,’ foreign affairs minister Micheál Martin said today. ‘The PSNI is a modern police service, one which is representative of the community that it serves.’ ‘The blueprint for that transformation was the […]

There’s Always One

The benefit of the doubt (or if you prefer, the presumption of innocence) is one of the longest established principles in the common law. At it’s most blunt, the principle is expressed in Blackstone’s formulation: “better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”. Populist cheerleaders for tough policing often focus on those […]

Threat Level

Justice minister Dermot Ahern says membership of a criminal gang will become a scheduled offence, to be tried in the Special Criminal Court. In the last chapter of Chaos and Conspiracy, when I considered the lessons to be learned from what happened in Donegal a decade ago, I wrote this: “The Gardaí need effective oversight […]

Polling The Police

It’s been reported that over half of our police think they should be armed. You can always tell it’s the silly season when stories like this pop up. Growing up, I could always tell when summer had officially started it when one of the newspapers ran a Blaney To Rejoin Fianna Fáil story, until his […]

Police Action

‘Lack of evidence keeps cases from courts’, RTÉ reports in a headline summarising the annual report from the Director of Public Prosecutions. My first reaction to the headline was the Homer Response. ‘That’s reassuring’ was my second reaction. My third reaction was to think of news stories following high profile crimes – from so-called ‘gangland […]