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  • JOHN OBRIEN

Glad to Share some Exciting Reviews of "A Question of Honour"...... And a New Book on the Way

Intend to Publish a New Book Next Year to coincide with the Centenary of An Garda Síochána. The working title is "Diluting the Blue, Fact or Fiction". Researching at the moment and it's not a memoir. Looking for volunteers and assistance.


A Question of Honour: Politics and Policing - The Inside story


By John O’Brien


A Question of Honour is an enthralling view not merely of Irish policing during the latter decades of the 20th century in Ireland, but is also a forensically-researched and detailed social analysis of that turbulent period in Ireland. The book is expertly and authoritatively written by a former senior member of An Garda Siochána, retired Detective Chief Superintendent John O’Brien.


Incorporating expert and comprehensive research, and offering extensive reference notes, this landmark work offers an insider’s view of the reality of what was happening on the ground – not merely within An Garda Siochána but in Irish society as a whole - during a period of great social change and emotional and political turmoil on the island of Ireland. And he is uniquely qualified to depict such insights and experiences, having been deeply involved at so many levels during those years.

The author, having served at all levels in the Irish police, is painstaking in providing a detailed and often stark overview of some of the most extraordinary episodes and challenges occurring in Irish society at the time. He does so fearlessly and without any personal agenda, other than the factual presentation of what happened, when, how and to whom, during a maelstrom period in Irish life that encompassed the good, the bad and the ugly at so many levels.


In parts, the book reads like a John le Carré thriller, while successfully managing to offer a clear-sighted analysis of who we are as a nation and to reveal a great deal of what was hitherto shrouded in secrecy.


This book is not merely a most entertaining read, but is destined also to become an essential reference book for anyone wishing to study the workings of the Irish State in general, and the workings of An Garda Siochána in particular, in the latter half of the last century.


Michael Keating

(Author, Day of Reckoning)



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

by John O’Brien

Review by GSRMA Member: Pat Cregg


John O’Brien has, in effect, given us two books here – an autobiographical account of his 38 years in An Garda Síochána and an outstanding document of record of the same period. Enmeshed in the latter, polite but uncompromising, is an increasingly pertinent analysis of Garda events, politics and policies, or the lack of them, as he moved through the ranks.


His dry and punchy sense of humour is never malicious and is put to good use in describing his first station, Santry and its then Sergeant, whom he coyly refers to as ‘Cork’, perhaps in deference to his own origins, and describes with devastating accuracy.


On the more serious side, I’ll take just one example of his management at a strategic level – the Garda National Traffic Policy Bureau (GNTB). This is a case study in strategic management as it should be. That he should find resistance to his text-book perfect methods of approaching policy development and application in road safety which should have been a clear-water exercise, tells us much about the stale and soupy concoction in which he was forced to swim.


Having read the book – and it’s not all, by any means an easy read, one is left with a niggling question. Why did O’Brien not move to the very most senior ranks at Commissioner level in the organisation? The answer lies buried in the book. He was sharp, analytical and incisive and could translate that effectively into policy, strategy and action and stood head and shoulders above many of those in whose hands his career progression lay.


An entertaining tale of reminiscences, trials, tribulations and war stories from the sixties to the noughties where you can easily fill in the names of characters he does not name, this book is also invaluable for the historian, for those even mildly academic or just curious as to how An Garda Síochána got to where it is today. It should be in every College and academic institution in this country, albeit perhaps, for different reasons as it moves through policing, policy and politics in Ireland during that period. Politics at this time was often a tale of second-rate politicians and the mediocrities that are drawn to them, and John gives a forthright account of his experience among them. Indeed, in parts, it makes an uneasy reflection not just on policing but on the politics and governance of Ireland over the period.


In ‘A Question of Honour,’ John O’Brien gives an honourable, direct and forthright account of his time in An Garda Síochána. This book is a must for those of us lived through that time, or who hope to learn from it.


Where to Purchase the Book: Available from: www.contrarian.ie Phone 01 2548442

ISBN No: Paperback: 9781913275174 & eBook: 9781913275181









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