The College Historical Society (Hist) last night held a lively debate on the effectiveness and fairness of the Gardaí. The fast-paced debate, which took place in the Graduates Memorial Building (GMB), drew a considerable audience.
Presiding over the event was Dr. Carol Coulter, former legal editor of the Irish Times, who heard the arguments in favour and against the Irish police force.
A number of arguments against the Gardaí were presented, but none were met with such enthusiasm as those citing cases of prejudice by members of the police force.
It was evident in the course of the debate that prejudice on the part of the police, particularly racism and sexism, is a growing concern among the student body.
While it was acknowledged that many individual members of An Garda Síochána do their job correctly, the claim that the systemic failures of the institution damage its reputation was met by applause from the audience.
In the opposing corner, the students that spoke in favour of the police matched the fervour of their counterparts. They countered that the public should not lose faith in the institution based on rare scandals. They also emphasised that with the growing diversity in the national police force there is the expectation for racial issues to be a diminishing concern.
The Gardaí was painted in a more favourable light when compared to the police forces across the United States who, as of late, have been rife with scandal.
Overall, as with many of the society’s previous events, the debate demonstrated the importance of student involvement in current events.