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200 Years Of Policing In Ireland- A New Exhibition

June saw the opening of a major exhibition to mark 200 years of policing in this country. The exhibition is being held in the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo. The exhibition was officially opened by Noirín O’Sullivan, Commissioner, An Garda Síochana, and Alistair Finlay, Temporary Deputy Chief Constable, Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), on Friday the 13th of June.

The Peace Preservation Act of 1814 allowed for the creation of the Peace Preservation Force which is seen by many as the precursor to the establishment of the Irish Constabulary and of the modern police services on the island of Ireland. The exhibition Preserving the Peace: Policing on the Island of Ireland 1814-2014 dedicated to marking this bi-centenary. The exhibition will stay open to the public until Easter 2015 and it forms part of the National Museum of Ireland’s Decade of Commemorations calendar of events.

The overall focus of the exhibition is on organised policing over two hundred years on the island, exploring the degree to which standard policing has metamorphosed or remained static against the backdrop of British and Irish rule. It is spread over three floors of the Museum Galleries and samples the nature of crimes which confronted the forces from the nineteenth century up to the present day. There is also an intriguing section depicting state punishment of the guilty in Victorian Ireland which is particularly fascinating.

Speaking about the importance of this exhibition Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said

“This year marks the two hundredth anniversary of the commencement of the Peace Preservation Act of 1814. This Act provided a framework in which peace was maintained on the island of Ireland and from this developed the Irish Constabulary which in turn provided the genesis for modern policing in Ireland in An Garda Siochana and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

This exhibition provides an in-depth overview of how policing developed in Ireland over the period 1814 to 2014, which covers some of the most tumultuous periods in Ireland’s history and I am very pleased to be invited to open and support this informative exhibition together with Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Finlay of the Police Service of Northern Ireland”.

Also noting the importance of the exhibition was T/Deputy Chief Constable Alistair Finlay from the Police Service of Northern Ireland who said “Policing within the North and South of Ireland has changed significantly over the past two hundred years. We in the Police Service are delighted to be part of this important event which will give people from across all sections of the community the opportunity to go and see the display which depicts policing over the generations.”

The Preserving the Peace exhibition opens a door onto the sometimes uncomfortable reality of Ireland’s official past. The exhibition offers a fantastic look at the history of policing in this country and is definitely worth a visit for anyone who has an interest in Irish policing history.





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