THIRTY SEVEN
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Garda Domestic Violence Policy

Garda Domestic Violence Policy

Garda Domestic Violence Policy


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policy:  / noun
    1. A proposed or adopted course or principle of action.
    2. Prudent or expedient conduct or action.
Read the complete Garda Domestic Abuse Policy .

“Individual cases of elder abuse are generally dealt with at local station level by individual gardai...If we get a report of an assault, or any crime, we will take statements and gather the evidence.”
-Gardai spokeperson, from the article by IrishHealth.com. View it here.

December 2009: Saoirse sends registered letters to three Garda stations; Bray, Rosslare and Wexford. She spells out her fears about Dolores' safety and pleads for help. In the letter, Saoirse recounts the abusive behaviour of Ethan, and writes of previous events concerning abuse. View it here.

The response from Rosslare Gardai: “...                .”

The Wexford Gardai were very helpful on the evening of December 3. Their response to Saoirse's letter a few days later consisted of: “...                .”

The response from Bray Gardai:
The Bray Gardai were very helpful the night of Saoirse's visit to Dolores, ensuring at the least that Dolores arrived at Ethan's house in Bray. Elizabeth Flaherty, who handled the coordination that night between the Wexford and Bray Gardai was very understanding and helpful. Saoirse spoke with Elizabeth after sending the letter, and once again she was understanding, receptive and willing to pursue this.
The next contact with her was markedly different. Saoirse was told that this was a civil matter, a family matter, the Gardai could do nothing, call a solicitor. Above all, do not send any documentation to them.
We believe the good intentions and concern for Dolores that Elizabeth Flaherty evidenced were hijacked by her superiors and/or colleagues. If so, it would not be the last time a front line representative who acknowledged the abuse, and who put out some effort to help Dolores met resistance from those above.

Dolores and Cecil, with baby Ethan. Nor would this be the last time An Garda Síochána would refuse to investigate, or refuse to take a statement, or refuse to consider evidence of the crimes committed by Ethan. In violation of their own policy, they claimed there was nothing they could do in this “family matter,” this “civil matter.”
We believe the slightest effort at investigation would have confirmed the danger Dolores faced. As an example, a simple phone call to the Garda stations in Cabinteely or Finglas (Ethan's former residences) would have revealed the many instances of the Gardai's involvement with Ethan's abusive and violent behaviour towards family, neighbors, and strangers. [Editor's note: Ireland's Freedom of Information Act regrettably excludes the Gardai. The information Dolores-Maxwell.com has sight of concerning Gardai reports about Ethan was gathered through other means.]

Saoirse was informed that the Gardai could only take action if Dolores, i.e. the victim, made a complaint. This excuse is contrary to stated policy (see 2.1 Procedure, above) and by definition empowers the abuser. Victims of Elder Abuse are in fact very unlikely to report their situation. For an example, see John Trimble. He sent his mother out alone every week to get money. Even with clear opportunity to report it, she was too frightened, ashamed and demoralised to say a word about the abuse she was suffering to anyone. [Editor's note: So the Gardai can only investigate if a complaint is made by the victim? If true, it follows then that murder would be the safest crime to commit. It's doubtful the dead victim would have a word with the Gardai to lodge a complaint against the killer.]

Ireland's An Garda Síochána historically has been consistent in their general refusal to investigate or refer for prosecution crimes against abuse victims, in even the most horrific cases concerning the sexual abuse of children. See The Murphy Report, a long and grim accounting of the failure of authorities to deal with abuse.

We believe that Ireland's culture of misogyny also was detrimental in enlisting help for Dolores; she was a woman, the person demanding help for her was a woman, Elizabeth Flaherty was a woman; therefore they were discounted from the start. See Gardai Threaten to Rape Protesters for a very recent example of this attitude in the Gardai. Reactions from the public were not uniformly supportive of the victims by any measure. And again: Garda sergeant charged in sexual assault case.


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Although it came as no surprise that the Gardai proved useless in stopping Ethan's abuse while violating many of their publicly stated policies, it can not be forgotten that Dolores was the one that suffered for their irresponsibility in her person.

Perhaps Dolores' doctor would help.

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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day UN Declaration of Human Rights European Year for Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity Towards a Society for All Ages