An exploratory study to assess perceptions of the power dividend: does external power affect the fairness of public policing in Dublin's north inner city?

  • Eunan Dolan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Fairness and equity are necessary in the provision by the state of a public good such as policing. It is against this backdrop that this research set out to assess the distribution of policing as a public good in the north inner city of Dublin and if this distribution can be explained by an analysis of external power on the Garda Síochána. The Minister for Justice has a legitimate right to exert overt democratic power over the police service, but it is argued here that there are other types of external power that affect the delivery of a fair and equitable police service. The north inner city of Dublin presents the Garda Síochána with a significant policing challenge. Within its boundaries all facets of modern urban life can be observed from extreme poverty to extreme wealth. This research is premised on the concept that power though intangible is a capacity whose workings are not easily observed. However, the existence of external power can be deduced from the outcomes achieved by certain groups in society. By using a qualitative research methodology, which employed semi-structured interviews it was possible to say counterfactually that external power on the Garda Síochána exists. This external power distorts the conduct of policing to such an extent that it is evident that those with social capital (the business community) exercise a disproportionate degree of power and that this power adversely affects the fairness and equitable distribution of a public police service within Dublin’s north inner city. The influence of this external power also has a negative effect on police professionalism and could lead to corruption. It is suggested that by engaging in critical reflection and with open peer review, informed by Rawlsian principles of justice, some of the effects of this external power could be mitigated by bringing the ‘why’ of policing decisions out into the open.
Date of AwardJul 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorAdrian James (Supervisor)

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