Book

A Question of Honour

– Politics and Policing –

A Question of Honour – Politics and Policing – The Inside Story

It is a history of the interaction between Politics and Policing over five generations. Obviously my perspective is that of garda officer both serving and retired. This approach has not been previously attempted.

The Book started out as a straight forward memoir of my garda service 1968 – 2006. Slowly but surely it emerged that the single biggest influencer on policing was political. This influence was largely domestic but Northern Ireland politics certainly played apart. Always the influence of Great Britain was strongly on the horizon and sometimes at a closer remove.

The political influence was summarised for me in a quote from the University of Leicester.

“Policing is fundamentally a political process, even in circumstances where the police service as an institution is relatively independent of government and accountable to the law. The specific actions of 'the police' as an institution involves the exercise of power, relates to liberty and freedom, and relies upon authority, all of which inevitably raise political questions”. University of Leicester 1998

Many individual themes are examined, and stories recounted of a wide range of experiences both at home and abroad.

Overall the discourse on Policing, Law and Order is a contested space. There is a temptation for contributors to confuse opinions with facts. Opinions are often expressed as accusations and in that scenario, facts come a distant third place. In the course of this book I looked for the facts and yes, I offered opinions based on those facts. Occasionally I yielded to the temptation to argue the issue from my perspective but hopefully not unreasonably.

Much of my narrative deals with the historical record but inevitably I was drawn to reflect on more recent events. My analysis of events is critical of some political initiatives taken by government and policy decisions made at the highest level in the AGS.

Obviously, history may contain some glorious chapters but inevitably there are uncomfortable experiences. I have made an honest attempt to capture the widest possible narrative. While undoubtedly, I have been critical, I have tried to capture the enthusiasm, the energy and satisfaction which comes from a service well delivered to our communities.

This story has not been previously told.

O'Brien

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