Page 22 - Church Review JUNE 2020 [IM)
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 Garda James MacCafferty with his drum in in Garda Band attire
wild animals roam freely around the sprawling green pastures with noticeably less human interference. A pair of Jay birds has been a rather exotic accompaniment to the regular radio updates from control on the Parkgate Street post.
Juxtaposed to the bustling life of the park, even in times of relative lockdown, is the sad reality of our unwanted visitor. Covid-19 has claimed too many of our park residents in one of our addresses. Sadly it is all too apparent at our post. Grieving family members, loved ones going to say a final goodbye through a window... a far too familiar occurrence. Ambulance paramedics in full emergency mode, doctors frenetically trying to reach a patient; a short time later the solemn contrast of a premature and lonely hearse... the radio falls silent, salute, the last post on this occasion a most majestic bird chorus. On other occasions an improvised moment of respect, headdress doffed or removed, a word of condolence, head bowed, reflection, a quiet prayer, silence... Moments afterwards, almost deceitfully, normality masquerades across a clear Dublin sky.
We are now operating a 12 hour shift, four days on and four days off. It works very well for me and most of the people I have asked are happy with this arrangement. Having spent two decades playing solely within the band I am benefitting hugely from gathering a lot of perspective without. My admiration for my colleagues across the emergency services but particularly within An Garda Síochána has appreciated even more. A local artist, John Paul, painted two of the detectives from Cabra, Al and Padraic, and my sidekick Charles and me on our checkpoint which captured a very positive aspect of the dynamic with colleagues. Two of my band colleagues lost loved ones recently. The loss of Belfast producer, director, actor and playwright Roma Tomelty was one that hit me, my family and theatre on this island hard. It's that we still can't say goodbye the way we are used to.
The Garda Chaplain, Archdeacon David Pierpoint, has visited us twice on his rounds which has been really appreciated. Our other chaplain, Reverend Brother Joe, is a little older than David so unfortunately just now they can't share the workload. We meet the ecclesiastical pair so frequently, often at the saddest times, that it is nice to just catch a quick chat or be sent a message with a link to a service or something uplifting.
Our Commissioner Jeremy Andrew Harris OBE QPM, has been ensuring that the Garda band keeps getting music out into the public domain. The four videos that have been released so far have been viewed over a million times and there are plans to post a few more.
Some have been to simply entertain people and others to pay homage to those who have passed away. We see other sections doing things that really seem to capture people's hearts and minds at what is undeniably a difficult time. The most popular of all messages from An Garda Síochána has come from one of our Little Blue Heroes Sergeant Jack Beatty, DL 999, undoubtedly the most respected member on the Garda band unit B... "Stay indoors, stay safe and save lives!".
Selfie - Garda James MacCafferty with his colleague Garda Charles Cavanagh and Archdeacon David Pierpoint in the Phoenix Park
Our Primary Objective is
Helping People Stay Safe
By Garda James H. J. E. MacCafferty
Members of An Garda Síochána have been at the frontline in helping to ensure compliance with the Government regulations introduced to curb the spread of Covid-19. For many the crisis has seen their roles change temporarily. Garda James HJE MacCafferty is a Garda in the Band of An Garda Síochána. He has been redeployed to Covid Checkpoints in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. He is also a member of the Christ Church Cathedral Group of Parishes in Dublin.
Here he writes about his experience of the last few weeks.
Our primary focus and objective is helping people stay safe through a series of measures aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19. Phoenix Park is the largest walled park in Europe with an 11km perimeter wall encircling 1,750 acres. Lying just north of the River Liffey, it is just a few short kilometres from the City Centre and it is not only an essential traffic route but is hugely popular with the citizenry of the metropolitan.
Included in the myriad of reasons people might not be able to stay at home are essential workers travelling to or carrying out their respective labour, people out to get food, health or family reasons, and most problematically people exercising. Combined with this are the approximately 30 families who reside in this space of which the most familiar to readers would be Uachtarán na hEireann, Michael D. Higgins residing at Áras an Uachtarán.
While a lot of businesses and buildings are currently closed in the park, Garda Headquarters, Mckee Army Barracks, and two nursing homes create a huge volume of traffic which now out of necessity are checked on entry. Add to this the American Ambassador's residence and also Farmleigh House where Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and President Barrack Obama stayed within days of each other in 2011, and most recently the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, ensure that Chesterfield Avenue, the central membrane through the park is even by today's quiet standards rarely empty.
Keeping people safe can be a simple reminder to practise social distancing which can be challenging with so many people legitimately in the park at one time. Walkers, runners, cyclists, dog walkers and so many more besides find it important to get out for brief exercise.
With vehicular traffic we are continually assessing, with special phone apps, if they are within their 2kms (if not specified exemptions) and unfortunately we regularly have to turn people around. As a rule of thumb people understand and as is widely reported, there is luckily huge compliance across a very diverse population. Another large complex is Dublin Zoo whose staff still need to feed and attend their animals. Meanwhile outside the walled zoo, fallow deer, fox, and other

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