By Eoin Ó Murchu
Since late 2016 there has been a significant increase in the number of armed response unit (ARU) Gardaí on the streets.
They are provided with expensive German made weapons and vehicles set to the tune of €60,000. Their ostensible role is to combat gang activity and improve potential response rate to a terror attack.
Leo Varadkar intends to establish a cabinet level committee on national security similar to the COBRA committee in the UK. The same committee which collaborates with M15, the agency currently involved with repression of republicans and socialists in the occupied 6 counties. It is quite clear that Varadkar and the ruling class behind him are using the threat of terror to ramp up the degree of militarisation of the police. A highly repressive state apparatus is essential for quashing resistance to relentless neoliberal policies.
Those in working class communities and minorities feel the thin edge of this heavily armed wedge. Actor and activist John Connors spoke out about the invasion of his halting site Belcamp lane in Darndale by armed Gardai.
This invasion, as highlighted by the warrant produced after the raid, was designated for a different halting site and unsurprisingly the inhabitants have been left traumatised and without answers.
With left wing politics on the rise, we can only expect more repression of working class activists and with little accountability from the Gardaí.
Numerous scandals highlight the corrupt nature of the Gardaí, but not their ability to repress and engage in political policing in a highly effective manner as was seen during the water charges movement.
As an increasingly militant socialist movement grows, one capable of providing an alternative to our cynical and reactionary states, north and south, it is likely that we will become targets of the Offences Against the State Act of 1939 and the harassment of Special Branch policing.
“The actions of An Garda Síochána in fearlessly opposing vicious criminal elements is a true example of service and commitment to the communities which they serve.” Said An Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald .
The ruling class will stress the ARU’s function to target criminiality in ‘Gangland’ but leave the financial terrorist and launderers untouched in the IFSC. This expanded use of armed police should be opposed. It is a cynical ploy to ‘normalise’ the presence of armed police on our streets.