Mothers and Fathers Matter release press statement regarding garda present at Yes Campaign stand
Garda presence further evidence of overbearing nature of the Yes Campaign
The Gardai statement of regret following the publication of photographs of a serving Garda involved, in uniform, in a “Yes Equality” campaign event, is incomplete and inadequate.
Further photographs of uniformed Gardai involved in campaign events have surfaced on the internet and their participation have been confirmed by representatives of USI (Union of Students in Ireland). The Gardai have no statutory role in increasing franchise or voter turnout and consequently their use or participation in campaign events is blatant politicising and deeply disturbing. In this light an anodyne statement of regret by Garda authorities for a single incident is indicative either of an extraordinarily poor management or of approval. Anyone with the merest concern for democratic process has to be disturbed by this fracture of tradition and custom that has kept the Gardai as a strictly neutral and apolitical force.
That there are those who see nothing wrong with politicising the state’s security apparatus must ignore Irish history and the terrible consequences for democracy in other countries of this banana republic style behaviour.
It is a matter of immediate urgency that the Garda Commissioner will make a clear statement explaining how and at what level these mistakes were made, and what steps are being taken to preserve the neutrality of An Garda Siochana.
The Minister for Justice, Mrs Fitzgerald needs to clarify to the Dáil that this government is neither involved in nor approves of the politicisation of An Garda Siochana.
It is to be even more regrettable that a former Supreme Court judge exercised such little discretion as to involve a young member of the force in this manner. Ireland deserves better than to have its police force reduced to a political pawn for anybody’s political cause, a neutral force is in everybody’s interest.
Commenting on this latest incident, Keith Mills of Mothers and Fathers Matter said: “This is simply further evidence of the overbearing nature of the Yes campaign. We have members of An Garda Siochana turning up at Yes campaign events. We have Twitter and other multinational giants telling us to vote Yes, and last week Mary McAleese broke with the tradition of other past presidents by saying she is voting Yes. Irish voters will soon be sick and tired of these high pressure tactics.”