Friday, July 20, 2012

The Fenian Avenger - Chapter 5a

Table of Contents

Chapter 5a

April - 18 years ago

Liam Malone took a swift step to the side as a uniformed officer struggled with a man in handcuffs. The prisoner knocked the hat off the officer’s head and it rolled across the hallway. The officer scooted across the hall, with the detainee pulled beside him, and picked up the standard dark blue Garda hat. The itchy cap, made of wool, displayed a brass badge with a light blue circle surrounded by gold and dark blue, outlined with alternate circles and fleur-de-lies. The remainder of the Garda uniform consisted of the familiar powder blue dress shirt, emblazoned with dark blue shoulder emblems, finished with a dark blue tie, a nameplate over the right pocket, and pleated blue trousers.
Liam flattened against the wall. Unable to avoid the handcuffed man’s momentum, Liam crumpled to the ground as the criminal bumped him in the groin. Liam let out a muffled grunt at the impact and pushed the prisoner aside.
“Sorry, sir, Detective,” the uniformed Garda said as he replaced his hat on his head.
“No worries,” Liam said and forced a smile. “You have yourself a wild one there, don’t ya?”
The officer shrugged. “Sorry, I’ll give him a whack in the jewels in a bit as payback. Sorry.”
Liam smiled as he brushed back a stringy shock of light brown hair across his head with his hand. He felt the word “sorry” was the most overused word in the Irish vocabulary and became almost reflexive in casual conversation, as the phrase started a good number of conversations where an apology was not necessary. As the term was such a norm in conversation, when conditions required a true apology, you practically needed to offer indentured servitude to make the applicable repentance.
On a normal day, foot traffic in these halls resembled a poorly engineered congested Paris intersection. With everyone in a hurry, usually only the rude and pushy survived, of course the rude and pushy softened their actions with numerous instances of spontaneous “Sorry’s” to make amends. Any attempt at conversation degraded in rapid time into shouts in order to rise above the din.
These halls were not for the meek. These were the halls of the headquarters of the Garda Síochána na hÉireann, in Gaelic meaning Guardians of the Peace of Ireland. The Garda, or Gardaí for plural, were the Irish law enforcement organization, similar to local police in the United States or Great Britain, or the Mounted Police in Canada The public usually just called the organization as a whole the Gardaí (pronounced Gar-a-die) and individual officers as a Garda (pronounced Gar-a-dee, Gar-a-day, or Gar-a-da depending on what dialect they spoke).
While not as large as their cousins in New York City or London, the Garda Force Region of the Dublin Metropolitan headquarters was the largest Gardaí region in all of Ireland. The force covered nearly as many crimes and cases as all the other Irish regions in total. A trend not likely to decrease in the coming years with indications the depression Ireland experienced showed no sign of alleviating.
Garda headquarters lay nestled in an out of the way northeastern corner of Phoenix Park. A large metropolitan park, Phoenix Park sprawled across the western side of Dublin, and was Europe’s largest urban park. The city populated the commons with Fallow Deer, who grazed within the walled confines. The government scattered monuments to its most prominent historic citizens along the grounds. The residences of the President of Ireland and the United States Ambassador to Ireland lay within the confines of the grounds. Strewn across the park were football fields, rugby patches, picnic areas, concert areas, and untouched wooded areas.
As funds dried up in city coffers, the ability to upkeep such a large park became difficult. A result of the cutbacks saw the wooded areas grow in size, become overgrown, and become no longer traversable. A new sub-culture called “Parkers” emerged. Outlaws and homeless thieves who lived in the urban woods and preyed upon visitors, Parkers touted themselves as modern day Robin Hood and the Merry Men living in Dublin’s version of Sherwood Forest. Gardaí pointed out the concept of stealing from the rich and giving to the poor as questionable in this case, since they gave no stolen money to the poor, unless you considered the Parkers were actually the “poor” in the scenario.
The Garda Force headquarters took a back seat to its neighbor, the Dublin Zoo, at the intersection of North and Zoo Roads, much to the appreciation of Gardaí. Over the years, the confines of the zoo provided Garda officers a way to conduct anonymous meetings with informants and other individuals away from the formality of headquarters. Garda personnel enter the zoo free as a benefit, which also includes access after public hours. Dublin Zoo administrators instigated this benefit to encourage Gardaí to become visible in the zoo. They trusted the added presence operated as an addendum to the existing security force. Phoenix Park was no different from the rest of Dublin and mired in crime and gang activity.
The Gardaí formed in 1922 when the Republic of Ireland gained independence from Britain. With law enforcement in Ireland fractured into many units at the time, Gardaí became a centralized presence and replaced the Royal Irish Constabulary, a division of the British police, and the Irish Republican Police, which operated regionally from 1919 through 1922. Originally called the Civic Guard, the Garda Síochána Act of 1923 renamed the organization as the Garda Síochána na hÉireann, and eventually merged with the Dublin Metropolitan Police, to form a single law enforcement body for Ireland.
Gardaí consisted of six Regions across Ireland: Eastern, Northern, Western, Southern, Southeastern, and the Dublin Metropolitan. An Assistant Commissioner ran each Region, and reported to a panel of three Deputy Commissioners, who worked for an overall Commissioner. Within the Dublin Metropolitan, the city divided into six districts: North, South, East, West, North Central, and South Central.
Always an issue with every large police force, corruption especially dogged Gardaí. During the days of the recent depression, Gardaí garnered a reputation of corruption at every level. From images and video on the RTÈ of uniformed Gardaí shaking down citizens for money, to stories of the majority of the force paid by outside interests, most citizens view Gardaí as the last people to call if you were in trouble. With the amount of corruption rampant, the fact Gardaí telephone number contained the numbers 666 amused Liam Malone.


No comments:

Post a Comment