By Pat Flanagan (for the Irish Mirror)
A police chief interfering in a country’s electoral process is something we have come to expect – but usually in Third World dictatorships.
A generalissimo in such a state would normally condemn the opposition parties and deem them not fit to hold office if the ruling elites were in danger of losing power.
While Garda chief Drew Harris didn’t quite go that far, he certainly made grave allegations against the most popular party in the State when attempts were being made to form a government.
The establishment is terrified after an empowered working and middle class largely rejected the old unreliables of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
Panic makes those in authority do strange things and none can be weirder than calling on the services of Her Majesty’s Secret Service to help win power in this republic.
What Mr Harris did was claim the damning information he had on Sinn Féin came from the police force and spy agency of another country and not from An Garda Siochana.
Even the generalissimo in the tinpot dictatorship wouldn’t try that one – especially if the spy agency that supplied the info had historically been involved in the mass murder of innocent civilians in his country.
In short, what our police chief has done is enter the political arena and as good as said one of the three main parties is not fit to govern.
You could never imagine a situation in France, for instance, where a high-ranking police officer denigrated a political party on the word of British intelligence agency MI5.
The Commissioner said the view of An Garda Siochana “does not differ” from that of the PSNI or British security services.
So Mr Harris is asking us to take the word of MI5 and the PSNI, whose former incarnation as the RUC was hardly an honest broker when it came to the Troubles. Indeed many members were involved in loyalist murder gangs run by British intelligence.
Would this be the same MI5 that was implicated in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings that claimed 33 victims as well as a full-term unborn child?
No one has been charged with what was the deadliest attack of the Troubles but the State inquiry by Justice Henry Barron criticised the Garda probe and found it was likely British security force personnel or MI5 was involved.
The UK government still refuses to release key papers on the atrocity. Why?
Mr Harris joined the RUC in 1983 and as a senior officer had, and obviously still has, interactions with British intelligence.
Maybe he should have inquired of his contacts who murdered 33 of our citizens in 1974 when they were briefing him about Sinn Féin and the IRA.
Are we to abandon support of an Irish political party on the word of the same MI5 which was more than likely behind the murder of solicitor Pat Finucane and the Miami Showband massacre?
Let’s not forget the Glennane Gang, which worked in collusion with RUC officers and Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers who murdered over 120 mostly innocent Catholics in the mid-1970s while aided and abetted by MI5.
Are we to take the word of this organisation that Sinn Féin is still run by the IRA army council?
The party’s poll success came about because many voters realised nothing was going to change under Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael and it is unlikely mudslinging by these parties or scaremongering by Mr Harris will change that belief.
And what are we to make of the top cop now? Seeing Sinn Féin are beyond the pale, is he a Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil Garda Commissioner? Just askin’, because that’s what happens when you get involved in politics.
Had Mr Harris made these claims at another time and in another context they might be acceptable.
No matter what he says, the indisputable fact is the commissioner made comments that sought to undermine the credibility of one particular party at a crucial time in Irish politics.
There are many people who believe Mr Harris has completely overstepped the mark and think he should consider his position.
He has certainly undermined his own credibility and lost the trust of a good proportion of the people of this republic.