The proper deployment of finite Garda resources is a cornerstone of effective Garda management. The independence of the Garda from political direction is an essential feature of our justice system.
Extensive new powers have been given to the Garda to enable them to keep up with the changing technologies used by criminals - so for instance email records must be preserved by ISPs and so on. Use of those powers is, we are assured, carefully monitored and appropriate.
Controversy and public disquiet erupts from time to time where it may appear that insufficient Garda resources are applied to a serious issue - whether that be policing certain parts of Limerick, drug dealing locally, Shannon Airport, or investigating alleged white collar crime in banks.
The unanswered questions around the withdrawal of serious charges against a Louth drug dealer (featured in Prime Time Investigates recently) intensify this public disquiet. In that case a family was terrorised in its home by a masked man who threatened them over reporting drug crime to the Guards - which they had done believing it was 'in confidence'.
Against this background what are the public - whose support the Garda depend on and usually can count on to do their vital work - to make of this?
A garda visited the offices of Today FM yesterday afternoon looking for email contacts the Ray D'Arcy Show show had with the artist who painted the nude portraits of Brian Cowen that were hung in two Dublin galleries.
On his show this morning, D'Arcy said the show’s producer Will Hanafin had spoken with the garda who had told him that “the powers that be want action taken”.
Mr Hanafin said he was told that the Gardaí wanted the name and contact details of the artist so they could caution him and when he declined to pass the information on, he was told a warrant might be sought to get access to the show’s emails.
Gardaí visit radio station in Cowen painting inquiry - The Irish Times - Wed, Mar 25, 2009
Is this appropriate use of Garda resources?
Does this undermine public confidence in Garda independence from political interference?