Sinn Fein come in for (more than) their fair share of criticism, much of it visceral and personal. The term Shinnerbot is a derogatory term thrown at anyone, regardless of political affiliations, who veers from the narrative of the Right Wing Irish Chumocracy.
The Shinnerbots, the Lefty Loonies, the Bearded Brethren, the Anarchists, the Mad Trots and on and on goes the denigrating language of the Right Wing commentariat. These words are so dominant (and so inherently derogatory) that some of the users don’t even know they’re engaging in dehumanisation. To be labelled as any of the above slurs, is to be called, less than, unworthy. The objective of the labelling is to marginalise and mock. It’s as pathetic as it is pervasive.
But the term Shinnerbot is interesting. It conveys a robotic drone-like quality to the accused. A blind loyalty if you will. It means that the “bot” is without freedom of expression or thought. It portrays anyone outside of the Chumocracy as devoid of humanity. This dangerous (almost fascist) labelling speaks to something more rotten at the heart of the Right Wing Conglomerate.
Yet, there is a certain truism in the “bot” slur. When a Twitter User pointed out that “party members, of all hues never criticise their own party”. Within minutes, his timeline was filled with accusations of cosying up to his “mates” in Sinn Fein. The mob neglected the term “all hues” and decided to vent. Some accusations were slanderous and malicious, but I don’t want to give such bullshit anymore oxygen.
But the comment had touched on something endemic in our society. When Sinn Fein fail to show any internal dissent, no matter what the controversy, (and there have been many) they argue that it shows great party discipline. What it actually shows, is a lack of progress. If Sinn Fein wants to become a party of Government, they need to embrace new ideas and move beyond great discipline. The same can, and indeed should, be said for the rest of the blind faith political parties.
But it doesn’t stop with the politicians…
The Gardai are at a low ebb. Under-resourced, ill-equipped and unappreciated by large portions of society; our Police force are struggling. They’ve borne austerity in ways that you or I never have. The cuts to their working conditions lessened their safety and security. The unravelling of parts of our society due to the economic crash meant a tougher working environment. A confluence of crap sweeping away their morale.
Our Police force had the tools they needed taken away at a time when the society was fragmenting and inequality was growing at the fastest rate since the foundation of the state. Don’t bring a baton to a gunfight! Is it any wonder morale suffered??
None of this excuses some of the “disgusting” actions of some of our Police force. We don’t need to get into a debate on Penalty Points, GSOC, Whistleblowers treatment, the Taping of Confidential Phone calls, the Fennelly Report, the O’Higgins Report and the numerous other scandals that have rocked our Police force. You can make up your own minds on these; if you’re not a “bot”.
But, and it’s a big but, we do need to open the debate on solutions for the issues facing our Police force. And it is my opinion that this cannot happen under the current administration. We know our Garda Commissioner tried to undermine a whistleblower, we know she wanted a focus put on discrediting Sgt. Maurice McCabe, and we know she has decided she doesn’t have to answer for this.
We can read how her husband has just been promoted to Chief Superintendent. I stress that nothing about this is illegal; procedures were followed by the letter. However, the fact remains, that her husband has gotten promotion under her watch. And the fact is, that the current process is to be replaced at the end of June, with a new system which requires all appointments to be made by the Policing Authority. The fact is, given her current predicament, this promotion is badly timed and open to accusations of nepotism and cronyism.
When you are part of a team, you give up a piece of your individuality for the collective good. When you are part of a team, you step up and help out when required. When you are part of a team, you share the load. When you are part of a team, you win and lose together. When you are part of a team, you demand better of each other, you bicker and squabble and you improve one another.
Based on the behaviours of our current Garda Commissioner, the demanding better of each other is not tolerated. In fact, it is marginalised and discredited. The “bots” root out the dissent. Dissent can lead to conflict. Conflict can lead to creation. Creation can lead to progress. And a progressive Policing Force is what we as citizens need and what our Police force deserve. Under Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan, progress is a “disgusting” word. She needs to show an ability to embrace change and nurture progress or, she needs to go.
Tone from the top…
Tony Groves May 2016