It HASN’T even been broadcast yet but Virgin Media One's gritty new series about a Northside policing district is already causing controversy.
‘The Guards: Inside the K’ is a landmark five-part series that will give viewers unprecedented access to the work carried out by An Garda Síochána in one of Ireland’s most challenging policing districts. The K is Ireland’s busiest policing district and includes Blanchardstown, Finglas and Cabra. With nothing off limits, viewers will see the full scale of murder investigations, drug raids and ongoing operations designed to keep gangland violence at bay.
Each episode highlights issues ranging from gangland violence to the drugs epidemic sweeping the country. The series shines a light on the challenges of frontline policing in modern Ireland, showing the damage caused by drugs and the dangers involved for young people who find themselves involved with gangs.
However, even before it airs this week, on Wednesday, March 4, at 9pm, the programme has already come under fire. Dublin West TD (SF) Paul Donnelly expressed concerns over the depiction of Dublin West by serving gardai in the K District.
In a statement, Deputy Donnelly said: “I have seen the trailer for this programme and I’ve listened to the gardaí describe the area as ‘absolutely mental’, ‘half mad’ and one member even talking about ‘being dropped in Beirut’. Another Garda member described it like ‘being in the Wild West’. I’ve had communications from residents in Dublin West who are angry with the Garda Siochána being involved in a programme like this and the offensive manner in which they describe our community.
“I’ve spent the last six weeks walking and canvassing throughout Dublin West, and I have lived here for the past 25 years. I do not recognise the place that they are talking about.
“Of course there are problems with some areas and there are serious issues in relation to crime, drugs, anti-social behaviour and burglaries.
“However, Garda management would be better served dealing with those issues at senior level and demanding more resources than participating in a programme that looks set to stigmatise this whole community when only a tiny proportion of that community are involved in criminality.
“I understand that we have only seen a promo for the programme and I do hope that over the coming weeks there is a much broader and positive view of the community of Dublin West and the area that the K District serves. However, what we have seen so far is hugely disappointing.”