By Mattie Lennon.
Tim Doyle is a former Garda. In 2001, he published his memoir, Get up Them Steps. It detailed his experiences while serving as a member of An Garda Síochána. It was his second book on the subject, the first being Peaks and Valleys: the Ups and Downs of a Young Garda, which was published in 1997. He gives give an honest, and at times humorous, narrative of police work in Dublin. Tim is not from that literary culture centre known as North Kerry. He is however from the south of the Kingdom and John B. Keane saw his potential and told him, “You should come and live in Listowel.” John B. was on the ball. It was obvious from Tim’s first book that he would qualify for citizenship among the literati of north Kerry or anywhere else.
His latest book, Changing of the Guard, the fruit of ten years meticulous research, tells the story of that giant of Irish policing, Jack Marrinan, from Lisdoonvarna, County Clare. He was a key modernizer of policing in Ireland. He was elected to the national executive of the Representative Body for Guards (RBG), the precursor to the Garda Representative Association. This book highlights how those in power trampled on the rights of the rank and file Gardai for four decades from the foundation of the State.
Those of us who read The Garda Review over the years or perused the national newspapers from the sixties on are aware of the work that Jack put in on behalf of his colleagues. His son John had it put in a nutshell for him. He says, “When I was in college I met another student whose father knew or worked with mine. He told me his father said Dad was “a tough bastard of a negotiator”, meaning it in the most complimentary sense.” Paddy Terry, a senior civil servant negotiating with Jack Marrinan on behalf of the Department of Justice said, “In my opinion Jack was the best negotiator any organisation ever had.” One of his colleagues summed him up with the utmost brevity when he said that Jack was, “. . . educated and more especially intelligent.”
Tim Doyle tells the comprehensive story of Jack Marrinan with some wonderful prose. For instance when referring to Sean Lemass’s statement that, “A rising tide lifts all boats,” Tim writes,” . . . some boats remained beached on the arid shores of the economic austerity which had been a feature of Irish life since independence.”
Changing of the Guard shows Marrinan as the transformational figure that he was. Under his leadership the Garda Representative Association (GRA) evolved into a skilful and powerful negotiating body. When younger Gardaí were excluded from a pay award in 1961, the RBG instructed its members to "go slow" in implementing traffic regulations in Dublin. A meeting of protesting Gardaí at the Macushla ballroom in Dublin resulted in disciplinary notices charging them with discreditable conduct. Eleven men, including Marrinan, were dismissed by the commissioner. With Jack as their leader needless to say they were reinstated.
Nearly all of the advantages that Gardaí enjoy today are built on the foundations established by the man who got permission from the Archbishop of Dublin to attend Trinity College, was referred to in the Clare Champion as “A talented Garda” and almost applied for the position of assistant inspector in the Rhodesian Police.
Jack also knew when to advise discretion. Such as the time that James McCarthy, a young garda from Co. Laois, was fined £1 by Superintendent Larry wren, later to become Commissioner, for not having a regulation haircut. Since Mc Carthy was still on probation and Wren had , in the words of the author, “ . . a reputation for vindictiveness” Jack advised the young man to handle the matter diplomatically.
If any young Garda thinks that the author is exaggerating Jacks ability I must remind them that when the Berlin Wall was no more and the Germans were starting their own police association they sought advice from the Lisdoonvarna man. And for the full story of his life, told in great detail, in the 297 pages of this wonderful book we have to thank Tim Doyle.
Changing of the Guard is published by Currach Books. www.currachbooks.com Tim Doyle is donating the royalties from his book to charity, following his own experience of receiving a kidney transplant. He says, "I had been writing away as a hobby, but the seriousness of all that happened me took over and I thought I'm going to do a book of the Garda life and give the money to the Irish Kidney Association, it's the small little things that happen in our lives that can make the difference."
This book will make a difference in your life and the proceeds will help to save many lives ; don’t miss it.
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By Mattie Lennon.