LegalEagleStar

… a kind of Legal Column

Posts Tagged ‘Dublin

A Depleted Police Force Rings Bells of Corruption #GardaSiochana

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Over a lifetime of involvement in the law, I’ve had to deal with the Garda Siochana on many levels. I have seen the progress as well as the demotion of individual Gardai and by and large I have been impressed with the level of integrity and humanity that most show when carrying out their duties. Of course, we come upon the odd bad apple, as in all walks of life, but unfortunately there is nothing as rotten as a bad Cop. The misuse of the Garda Siochana is what annoys me the most. When political influence interjects to corrupt the Force it spells disaster.

In the Ireland of the 1970’s there was no shortage of Gardai to man the ‘political police’ who spent many hours working against those who threatened the State. Politicians left no stone unturned to capture their ‘enemies’ and legislation was enacted to allow for the detention of ‘suspected terrorists’ when the need arose. People were targeted for the most menial of reasons and I personally believe that many became involved in the ‘troubles’ as a direct result of police action who would otherwise not have done so. My point is, that once the State felt threatened, it threw all it’s resources to protect itself regardless of the consequences to the civil rights of those who, for one reason or another became politically active against it. There was never any issue of not having enough ‘Special Branch’ on the ground and manpower was never an issue. The State in this instance was in fact not you and me but the interests of those in power. The old ‘civil war’ politics which have divided this country for many years were alive and well. The Free State was to be protected at all costs.

Times, they are a changing. Today politics have moved on. The Good Friday Agreement has unleashed those who ‘threatened the State’ into mainstream politics. This can be nothing but a good thing, although unfortunately it has left behind some of those who feel that the politicians are now pursuing another agenda. I  suppose, following the Civil War in the 1920’s there were those who felt betrayed and disfranchised. That is where the politicians fail. Not to be inclusive is to distract from the reality. I truly hope that progress can be made to bring about an inclusive society where the rights and aspirations of the Citizen can be nourished, not quashed.

Today in Ireland, we have many problems. Most have been due to the ineptitude, self-interest and downright corruption of the political classes. As a State we have lost our sovereignty. Joan Burton, Labour Party, has stated that we have pooled our sovereignty with our friends in Europe. This loss, or pooling, is in the interests of those who want a United States of Europe, a matter that has never been openly put to the Irish Citizen. Nonetheless, we are now being dictated to by Foreign Powers regardless of our wishes.

The interference with the independence of the Garda Siochana and the cut-backs being imposed by our Government, clearly at the behest of others, including the International Monetary Fund, the IMF, have left the Citizen exposed to forces whose objective is the dismantling of society as we know it. Only last night on National Television we saw the open drug dealing on the streets of our capital city, Dublin. Some have asked why RTE cameras could expose the transactions taking place while the Gardai on film seemed to be acting under crude restrictions. From talking with members of the Force over the last while, I have received an education. Their resources have been cut to such an extent that it has become nigh impossible for them to carry out their duties. The Force has become depressed as a result and the Citizen is the one suffering the brunt of the actions of the politicians. This begs the question… ‘In whose interest are the Garda Siochana acting?’ Well, they are there to protect the State. They take their orders from the political classes, those same people who have sold out our sovereignty to others whose interests are not in line with those of the Irish Citizens.

Who is benefiting from the cutbacks? Well as shown, clearly not the Citizen or indeed the Garda Siochana themselves. Who then benefits? Well I suggest the Drug Lords, Corrupt Bankers, White Collar Crime etc.  One could suggest they are one and the same people ! The Gardai, despite their misuse on picket lines are our protectors. We should listen to them when they tell us they are suffering. When the old and vulnerable in our society are being brutalised by thugs and gangsters who operate now freely in our society.  Is it not time to call an immediate halt to the disastrous policies on policing currently being imposed by our current Government ?  Or is it now fact that they really control nothing and that policy is being dictated solely by a Higher Force which is blind to the needs of the ordinary citizen. If the same mentality existed today as in the 1970’s as regards the protection of the interests of the State, things would be very different. Or would they? In those dark days as today, maybe the interests of the political classes are still being served. Maybe the Gardai have been used all along to protect the Elites among us, not the ordinary citizen. Today the Gardai rank and file are not happy being used and abused in this way. But, will anything change ?

LegalEagleStar , Friday , 22 nd. June , 2012 .

At home on The Ranch with G’son Toes

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All of us need somewhere to call home. I’m very lucky in that while I was born and reared both in Dublin and to a lesser extent Dundalk, I’ve always had my family around me. Family to me is everything. I am also lucky that I had both sets of Grandparents to learn from as well as many Uncles and Aunts who I must say, I was extremely privileged to have known.

I was born in Killester, a suburb of Dublin in the 1950s. Dublin was a very different place than it is today. Poverty was widespread and a lot of the City was derelict. Tenements prevailed throughout the inner city and a lot of children could be seen playing with skipping ropes and other improvised toys. Hop Scotch was a popular game and if you had a football, well you were a popular kid. No PlayStations, Computer Games or even Mobile Phones were about in those days. You were ‘well off’ if you had a phone in your house ! My mother used to bring me ‘into town’ to do the shopping. While I remember it being tiring I also remember it being a fascinating time. Mum used to make her own clothes. Her father was a Tailor and Cutter and he certainly trained her well. Many a memory I have of calling into the Wollen Mills on the Quays, then across the Metal Bridge to a small shop where she’d buy the buttons, zips and such like. Then on to meet up with her friends and have a ‘chat’. We got the Bus everywhere. Only a few people had a car and I suppose when we got fed up with the Radio, we paid a visit to a friend’s house to watch their Tele. To watch Match of the Day, in Black and White, on a fuzzy screen was marvelous. Top of the Pops, if you could get BBC was amazing. They were tough times but I have nothing but good and fond memories of those days.

At the end of the month we used to take the train to Dundalk to see my Dad’s family. My Dad worked in British Railways so we had Privilege Tickets. This meant that we got a Return Ticket for half the price of a Single. I remember getting excited when the train crossed the Boyne after leaving the station at Drogheda and waiting to pass through Dunleer and then Castlebellingham. My Dad would point out the landmarks as we approached Dundalk. We’d take a Taxi from the station to Broughton Street where Grandad used to live. My cousins were great. I was the youngest grandchild and as my cousins were nearly all girls, we’d play house and of course I was always the baby/child. Ah those were the days.

While I have great memories I’m also very aware that others weren’t so lucky. Artane Boys School was ‘down the road’ from me in Donnycarney. On the outside the building looked amazing but unfortunately we now know, that all was not so rosy inside. Having met a number of the victims of child abuse who were resident there when I was a little boy growing up, I feel sorry that they were not able to have had the support of a family as I did.

When I had children myself, I made a pledge that I would try to be as good to them as my Mum and Dad were to me. I think we’ve done OK as a family despite marriage breakdown some years ago. It wasn’t an easy time but myself and the children got on with our lives. Now, being a Grandad myself I can watch the next generation starting out on their journeys in life. Toes, as regular readers of my ramblings will know, is my grandson. While he’s now approaching the terrible twos and showing appropriate signs 😦 I’ve had the privilege of being part of his life since the day he was born. Lisa and Eddie are good, doting parents and I wish them well. I, for my part have done my fair share of babysitting so far and none more so than in Texas this past summer. They say that travel broadens the mind and if that is so, then Toes has had a great start in life. I got on a plane for the first time when I was eighteen. Toes on the other hand, probably qualifies as a frequent traveller at this stage and he’s not even two !

Life without family would be unbearable for me. That is what life is all about. It’s what keeps me going. While I sit here in Texas with Toes and walk about the land, trying to keep up with him, us both dressed like we’re locals wearing our Cowboy Hats, I do realise what a privilege it is to be part of a loving family. We are very lucky and it is sad that all children don’t get the opportunities that both myself and now Toes enjoy.

LegalEagleStar , San Antonio, Texas, Tuesday, 27th. September , 2011.

Written by LegalEagleStar

September 30, 2011 at 4:00 pm

An Irishman at home with ‘The Spirit of Texas’.

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San Antonio - The Alamo

Image by teachandlearn via Flickr

Texas is unlike Ireland, in so many ways. While we speak the same language, well kind of, the whole mentality of the Texan is so unlike us Irish today. I have no doubt that they would not ‘lie down’ as we appear to be doing as regards the Banks and Big Business. The spirit of The Alamo is alive and well in Texas. We Irish fought in the Battle of the Alamo and many people in Ireland are unaware of this fact. Not so in San Antonio, where they remember that we stood shoulder to shoulder with many races in their fight for independence. And yes, Big Business is alive and kicking here with a ruthless efficiency. I for one would be occupied full-time in supporting workers rights and might well not be though of too highly as a result. That said, there is a work ethic present here that would put a lot of us to shame.

When I was young, growing up, I was aware of a sense of National Pride. Unfortunately with the onset of the Celtic Tiger our national attitudes changed and not for the better, as far as I’m concerned. There was also a kind of Tribalism that prevailed between Dublin and the rest of the country. For the average ‘Dub’ we were aware of Dublin playing in Croke Park against, well a Country side. I at least, knew of two other Counties. As my father was a Dundalk man he brought me to see the Mighty Down playing and that got his Northern Blood flowing. I was also aware of the Wee County, Louth but I have no recollection of ever seeing them play. In Texas, yes they are Americans and proud of  it,  but first and foremost they are Texans. When you see the Stars and Stripes flying outside a Company Headquarters, it will invariably be accompanied by the Lone Star i.e. the Flag of Texas. Sometimes the Lone Star stands proudly on its own. Many a proud Texan tells me of its history. The Six Flags of Texas… under Spain, France, Mexico, Independent Texas, Confederacy then United States. To this day, although this is disputed by many, I’m told that Texas has the right to secede from the Union. Whether this is correct or not it doesn’t stop many from displaying this as a car bumper sticker when they are angry with the direction the US is taking if they consider it not in the interests of Texas. Where we display, or did in past years, stickers saying ‘Keep Dublin Tidy’, their campaign states ‘Don’t Mess with Texas’.

Their attitude to crime is very black and white. If a crime is committed they go after the criminal with speed and efficiency. Child and Police killers get no mercy and these are deemed capital crimes to which the death penalty applies. I am very much against the death penalty as I believe violence by the State is obscene and that one person executed in the wrong is one too many. I understand where the Texan mentality comes from though. Life can be very hard. People have to work long hours to provide for their families. But there is a great sense of community which extends into looking after those not provided for by the State. People volunteer and as a result they have great pride in their communities. There is a certain old-fashioned attitude prevailing which I admire i.e. respect for each other. Whatever your status you’ll be address as ‘Sir’ or ‘Mam’. Nice to hear some manners spoken again. I have fallen in love with this  State, or Country, if you take that view, because of its people regardless of its Vast open spaces with its Huge Sky. I would never get a sense of  claustrophobia here, as everything really is Bigger in Texas.

As we plan to head back to Dublin shortly, I look around at the land with its wild deer, snakes (of 999 varieties), wild cats, bobcats, scorpions, and every type of bug you can imagine, and myself and family, including my grandson ‘Toes’ will miss this place. I head back home and I wonder sadly why we Irish have laid down and let our sense of Irishness and pride be taken away from us. I am certain about this, that unless we wake up and soon, we will be living in an anonymous Province of Europe where none of us will feel we belong. Already we have lost too many of our  young people to foreign lands and these were our future. What future can we look forward to now ? What will it take to wake us up again as a Nation and regain our sense of National Pride ?  Until then, I can only hope that I can spend as much time as possible among the Texan people who have made me feel, well at home here among the people of the Great State of Texas. Thank You Guys and Gals for this real sense of  ‘ Home’.

 

LegalEagleStar , Tuesday , 14th. June 2011 .

San Antonio, Texas.

Written by LegalEagleStar

June 15, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Toes, Mass and the end of the World.

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Ring, Ring. Hello, “Hi Tom. What’s the weather like out there?” It’s dark, I respond. It’s, it’s eh, 4:30AM. “You must be really having a Great time, up at this time… Hold on M wants you. Glad you’re enjoying yourself”. Eh, I’m asleep ! No answer… I’m obviously on Hold. “Hi Tom, G says you’re having a great time. Lucky you. What can I do for you?” Uh, You phoned me ! “You’re a terrible man. Did you get Fed-Ex to deliver that back to Dublin?”  But, I told J that I sent it Monday. Should be delivered Thursday, that’s tomorrow. “You’re funny, that’s today. Read your Blog the other day and looking forward to seeing that haircut. It sounds rough.” By now I am convinced I’ve been dreaming. A nightmare actually. OK, I say well work hard, see you guys… sometime. “OK, Thanks for calling.” …….

Toes with his Hat

The day after the World was supposed to end at 6PM here in Texas, we headed to Sunday Mass at St Joseph’s Church in Spring Branch. As Toe’s (my grandchild) Dad flew back to Dublin on business the day before, the question was whether to bring Toes, as he’s only 16 months old. We decided to risk it. Toes had acquired his first Cowboy Hat a few days previous and insisted on wearing it. This is the child that had refused to wear a hat or cap since birth but had decided to look like Grandad. So into the Church we went just before 10. After a little persuasion he handed me his hat and we put it beside mine, on the seat beside us. When Fr Jimmy, an ex-cop called all the children onto the alter a few minutes later Toes wanted to go up so his Mum brought him. Of course when there he sat beside a good-looking Blonde and pushed Mum away. So, Mum returned to sit beside me and Toe’s Uncle. We were apprehensive as Toes can sometimes Yell, Scream, Cry and suchlike but he was behaving himself and obviously falling in love with the Blonde Girl beside him. Not ever an utterance of his only word ‘Assse’.

Fr Jimmy told of his experiences the previous day. He asked the children what a priest wears. Black trousers, back Shirt, and Roman Collar. He said he was so dressed when he went into the HEB Store (like Tescos except about 50 times larger) to get some groceries. He had decided to take a short-cut through the Wine and Beer Section where he was stopped in his tracks by a young lady. “Hey Father. Don’t you know the World is going to end at 6PM tonight?” He replied that No, he didn’t think it would. The young lady engaged in conversation on this subject with him for some time when he noticed a large crowd had gathered. One lady asked him what time Mass was at. He replied 5PM. She asked him would he not start it at 5:30 so that everyone would be in the Church come 6PM. Fr Jimmy replied that she obviously had not attended one of his Masses as he’s only be about half way through by 6 ! Then a group of young Guys who were buying beer to take with them Tubing (They sit in the tube of a car tyre and raft down the rivers) asked him to Bless Them. Fr Jimmy obliged and a few minutes later observed them leaving and one guy says to the other, ‘Hurry up Guys, it’s 2 now. We only have 4 hours left”. Fr Jimmy concluded that being dressed in full Catholic Priest Uniform walking through your local HEB on the Day the World is supposed to end, is not a great idea !

To be fair to Toes he was very good. Never uttered a word, well that’s a slight lie but was so very well-behaved. Well, I am the proud Grandad.

We just got a phone call from a friend’s wife saying that the snake that had taken up residence in their pond was just seen with her daughters pet Frog in his mouth. ‘C’ has now resorted to hitting said snake on the head to try to rescue the frog while daughter (6) is going berserk. It could only happen in Texas !

LegalEagleStar , Friday , 10th. June 2011

San Antonio, Texas.

A Day in the life of an Irish Cowboy living in Texas, with Grandson !!

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State of Texas

Image by SMU Central University Libraries via Flickr

Woken early by crying Grandson. Lovely morning here in Texas, if you could drown out the sound of Toes. Toes is the name I gave him shortly after he was Christened as he had a fascination with his Toes. To get up and see to said child or turn over and hope that Mammy or Daddy will actually identify the cry of their beloved. OK, I turned over and went back to sleep. Yes I did but it became more impossible to ignore the cries. You know that cry which pleads with you, to your better senses. OK, eventually Mammy woke up and did the necessary.

Later on I decided I needed some therapy. While others go to the Spa and have massages and such like, Baldwin heads to the local Barbers Shop where a Korean Lady and her Texan Assistant always meet you with the same loving welcome…. “What You Want??” Eh, I could have said a Haircut but that would have been too obvious. Eh, usually get it cut, eh, with a Scissors (?). “What Number?” Em, now I knew what awaited me. My son years ago went from a Number 6 to a Nil Blade. Was the same fate awaiting me I wondered. OK said I, a Number 4. She replied “and ?” Well, was she asking me something else, but what?? Another Number !! OK, I replied Number 2. To be honest I hadn’t a clue what I’d just said or indeed ordered. Her Texan Assistant broke the ice somewhat by saying “Oh, I love your accent” . Great sorted. Nearly an hour later after having the sides nearly shaved but some hair, not much though, still visible on top, I went to stand up. “Don’t move.” I froze. Then the Texan took the hoover to me and literally hoovered my head, face and collar. I was then treated to a head massage, of sorts followed by a compulsive trimming of my Eyebrows. They both then looked me up and down and smiled. After more time showing me their masterpiece by the use of several mirrors I was released from the chair. To be fair to them both, I’ve never been pampered so much in my life. $10 was the Bill which I gladly paid plus a well deserved Tip before heading out to my son who said, Fair Play to you Dad. Some Haircut, with an evil grin on his face. My son had been looking after his nephew for the past hour or so and both seemed in good form. Thank God for small mercies.

As it was now nearing the unearthly hour of 10AM, I decided today was the day to get all those jobs done that took time. Well, we did have all day and Toes loves nothing better than a spin in the car. So I decided to get the Car Taxed and Inspected. The stickers on the Windscreen would soon alert the local SAPD that I was driving illegally. Well come June 1st that is. So off to collect my Caretaker’s Wife who is better than a Sat Nav. I might mention that without her I would literally drive around totally lost. In Texas if you take the wrong road you could end up in Mexico in no time at all. So my son, Toes and me drove over to collect said Sat Nav who calls me her ‘Twin Brother from Another Mudder’ as we were born exactly 1 hour apart back in 1958. I claim she’s the older twin but she doesn’t agree.

I drive past the Office where you pay the car tax with a smug look on my face as queues are not for me.The Queue is way past the door and spilling out onto the Street outside. My Sat Nav Twin directs me to a parking spot outside an unmarked Building. I had been here several times over the past few years and it always was a pleasure to do business. On entering through the side door I noticed there was a girl seated at both desks. One had a customer seated in front of her while the other lady was free. I usually say Hi and get a warm response and the usual ‘Oh I love your accent’. On this occasion however the lady who was free pointed me to the Take a Number Board. I took Number 14 and went where directed to take a seat and wait for said number 14 to be called. As I sat down the lady who was free gave me a frightening look. She let me sit for all of 10 seconds and then shouted “Next”. I looked around to see if there was someone in front of me, like the Invisible Man. Then I heard the words “You, are you deaf” ring out. Not a good start I thought but sure I’ll only be 2 or 3 minutes, just like last year, I thought. I then walked gingerly towards her as she pointed to where I should sit. My Sat Nav sat beside me while my son stood a safe distance away. Toes I placed on my lap. I then produced my Insurance and my Driving Licence as I’d done on numerous occasions before. She looks at them and then holds up my Driving Licence and says “What the hell is this?” My Driving Licence I said. I explained politely that I was Irish and lived in Dublin but that I had a home over here for vacations etc. She was unimpressed. I don’t think she believed one word of what I said. Remember now that I am in front of her desk in Boots, Jeans, Shirt and Cowboy Hat. She obviously had formed the opinion that I was a fraudster. She then asked whether there were any other Baldwins present. My son stepped forward. She asked him if he had a real driving licence. He produced his UK Driving Licence and she immediately said that was a real licence as she gives me yet another dirty look. At this stage I can feel cold sweat dripping from my brow. I then went to produce my Four Courts I.D. which would verify that I was a Solicitor. I then quickly thought again as there was a rather large sign on the door saying ”No Solicitors”. Not a good idea I thought. And of course I had left my Passport which contained an American Visa, well, back at the Ranch. At this point Toes decided to get involved and spoke. As his main word is Assse he uttered same with such passion that well, it didn’t really help my cause.

Suddenly she reached for the phone. At this point I thought, The Game is Up. She’s phoning the Police who will incarcerate me in the Local Lock-up. Poor Toes would see his Grandad being led away in handcuffs! I thought a quick call to my colleague Jim Adler, an attorney I trained with in Boston in the late 80’s would be necessary. He now calls himself “The Texas Hammer”. Yeah, he’ll sort this ‘Lady’ out. Or, what about the Governor, Rick Perry.  Sure he follows me on Twitter. He’ll definitely come to my rescue, won’t he ? But, to my relief I actually heard the person on the other end of the phone say ‘Yeah, no problem. Give Tom his Tax Sticker’. To say I was relieved would be an understatement. She then said she was prepared to Sell me the Car Tax but only on my son’s real Driving Licence. The Dublin Corporation Pink Driving Licence was thrown back at me and I was told under no circumstances to produce such a forgery again. That she would let me away with it this time. That it didn’t even look like a Driving Licence and was badly done anyway. I then paid her the grand sum of $54.30 and she gave me my Registration Renewal Receipt and Sticker. I left the office with my papers in order but a broken man, grasping Toes in my arms. But sure said my Sat Nav Twin, “she’s obviously not from Texas”.

Next port of call was a trip to this nice Mexican who ran an Inspection facility. I nervously walked in expecting the Police to be waiting for me. No, he was there ,a kind oldish guy. He took my Car Keys and 5 minutes later I was handed my sticker to say the car had passed and he even offered to put the 2 new stickers I had on the windscreen for me. I then paid him his fee, $14.20. The only strange thing was that he asked me what 8 was in German, for no apparent reason. I assured him I was Irish although I looked a local. Acht, I believe is 8 in German I said as I Thanked him and we went on our way.

A drive to Krispy Kremes was next as we needed some comfort food. Toes is 15 months old and not adverse to the odd bite of a Donut. The light was on as we approached so we knew we’d get some free donuts. On entering the building a young Mexican lad was walking towards the door eating a donut when Toes literally accosted him trying to prise the donut from his hand. Thank God the lad and his Mother saw the funny side of things. We bought a box of a dozen to bring home but Toes insisted on eating one whole one, on his own, even before leaving the shop. While driving home I got a whiff from the back seat and so though it only right to speed home and gives Toes back to his adorable mother.

At this stage I am contemplating an immediate Court challenge against Dublin City Council and having them explain before a High Court Judge why they had issued me, some 10 years ago, with such an obviously fraudulent document purporting to be a Driving Licence.

 

LegalEagleStar Friday, 3rd. June, 2011

San Antonio, Texas.

Written by LegalEagleStar

June 3, 2011 at 8:17 am

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