It seems like cops are always the butt of jokes the world over, but I have to say, sometimes the Irish Gardai (pronounced “Gardee”) earn the chuckles coming their way. Cultural amusement with this bunch is usually the result of casual observation… and the Gards are just not, well, very scary! They don’t even carry weapons in most instances (as opposed to the Irish Army, whose main duty is to guard bank entrances when armoured cars are making a transfer – they’re usually armed to the teeth with machine guns and all the other kit!).
However, sometimes there are more serious accusations.
Tonight, our next door neighbour was burgled – for the second time – while she was standing in her own living room. A woman came to the door and asked if she could leave a note for a friend who wasn’t at home. While she distracted our neighbour, two of her companions snuck in and fleeced the upstairs of the house. When our neighbour finally asked the woman to leave, she was just in time to see the others coming down the stairs and beating a hasty retreat.
Our neighbour came to our door just a few minutes after the culprits ran out of her house, and she was obviously quite shaken. Luckily, neither she or her elderly mother were hurt, but the incident was a complete violation of their home and privacy. However, our neighbour did not want the Gards called, because she had been burgled only a short while ago and the law enforcement officials who came to the house did nothing. They didn’t even come in the front door! They told her they knew who the criminal probably was, but that there was nothing they could do.
I can definitely understand her reservation in calling the Gardai again, but my personal sense of justice is outraged!!! What if this was a Garda’s mother or auntie? Would they take action then? And how many crimes go unreported because citizens feel similar apathy toward their civil servants? Why is this allowed to happen?
It feels like one of those gangster movies where the cops in the ghetto turn a blind eye to the drug dealers. Do the Gardai just have too much power? Or not enough? Or is it just an Irish attitude – ah sure, them’s small potatoes!
None of the neighbours, us included, rang the Gards, either. We did it out of respect for her wishes, but the general consensus was the same – why ring them? They won’t do anything. It’s the sort of attitude I studied in my college sociology class – if a woman screams outside a building, how many people will take action and how many will say “It’s none of my business”? These days it seems most people tend to follow the latter. (Except for Frank – I always tease him that he’s trying to save the world, one stray dog and lost mitten at a time! :))
I don’t know. And it’s disappointing, too, because I know some of the Gards here in town and they’re nice, responsible, moral sorts of people. But what are they doing? I wonder if my perception here is just a local fluke, or if it’s like this across the board in Ireland. I’m still too inexperienced to know.
One thing I do know – in the three years I’ve lived in this relatively small town, I’ve been alarmingly close to a number of crimes. This includes at least five robberies, one of which happened to me while I was working. There have been at least 10 stabbings within a mile of our house, and several murders. The amount of drugs, serious drugs, in this town is obscene. The streets are poorly lit and I actually don’t feel safe walking alone at night.
Indianapolis also had a fairly high crime rate and I did not live in the best part (I think there was something like 350 registered sex offenders within a one mile radius of my apartment?!?). But in the eight years I spent in that area, and even in the few events that did occur, it never crossed my mind NOT to call the police. No one ever advised me “not to bother.” When I did call the cops, they came promptly, and took care of the situation efficiently and professionally. I felt better. I didn’t feel so scared.
Too bad I cannot say the same here.
It’s been a long week, and an even longer day, so forgive me for having a bit of a rant.