Friday, December 15, 2006

Law and Order? More Like Laurel and Hardy

What a terrible week it’s been in Ireland. Murder is now a common or garden occurrence, with €10,000 reported as the price of an assassination.

Earlier this week, your faithful correspondent was thinking of calling for Internment. An Spailpín is always intrigued, when reading in the papers that such and such a person was “known to the Gardaí,” especially when they can list off as worrying a list of offences/accusations has have been associated with Martin Hyland, who was shot dead in his bed in Finglas on Tuesday. Mr Hyland “was known to every detective in the city,” reported the Irish Times on Wednesday. Mr Hyland “had an impressive property portfolio and was more involved in gun crime and top-end drug dealing than any other living criminal of his generation.”

And every time he reads something like that, a voice goes off in An Spailpín Fánach’s hopelessly innocent little head that says “well, if he was known to be such a gangster, why in God’s name wasn’t he in prison?”

So An Spailpín thought of using this platform to call for a return to internment, that all these pookies be rounded up and camped out in the Curragh, as in the dear old days of the 1930s, 50s and 70s, and see if that would settle their hash. Happily, An Spailpín has been a little too busy for writing lately, and this has now saved my blushes. Because it is now clear to An Spailpín that this will never happen.

It’s the Pádraig Nally case that’s made it clear. Nothing to do with the case itself, but to do with one detail of the case, which is this: the late John “Frog” Ward, aged forty-two, had approximately eighty previous convictions over 38 court appearances.

Eighty previous convictions. Think about that for a minute.

That means that, presuming the convictions dated from when Mr Ward turned 18, Mr Ward broke the law on average 5.71 times a year, every year, for fourteen years. Those are facts – he was convicted in open court. These aren’t accusations or bias or anything else – the court records are there. And yet, with eighty previous convictions, he was still running around loose until he met his end.

And that then begs the question – just how many convictions to you need to have before the courts decide that the penny isn’t dropping for you, that you are a persistent offender, and that it’s time to lock you up for good? 100? 150? 200?

This puts An Spailpín’s internment theory into its proper perspective. There is no point in locking people up on the presumption that they have no regard for the law when we have people whose thirty-eight court appearances and eighty previous convictions prove beyond all doubt that they have no respect for the law, and yet are still free to roam where they will.

It’s a joke, and we’re kidding ourselves. God help us all in this banana republic, ten days from Christmas.

Technorati Tags: , , ,