I am sitting in about the only type of place I feel physically, if not intellectually, safe at the moment: a Starbucks in the centre of Dublin.
After my mobile phone was stolen last Friday, I have found it difficult to trust too many of the smaller establishments. Even here, I have just discovered the charity box was recently stolen.
Organised crime is civil war applied to the kinder elements in our societies, and the same dynamics apply. You are either unquestioningly, blindly following those who generate such fearful environments, or you are against them, all too publicly, and for this reason then quite at their mercy.
Some while ago I read of an initiative, in Sicily I think it was. Shops began to put up in their windows stickers which said something along the lines of: “I don’t pay protection.” A little like what the better shops in Liverpool are doing as they sign up to LGBTQ-friendly spaces. Tell people, potential customers, where exactly you do stand on an issue of import.
“I don’t pay protection.” A powerful statement indeed. And one that would begin to name and shame those places that were either set up to launder illegal funds, or allowed themselves to be used for such purposes. A call, also, to the police everywhere, who will always know what, who, when and where – even as they themselves allow such activities to go unhindered.
There may, of course, be reasonably legitimate reasons in some cases to allow pettier crime to continue: the smaller victims always fall foul of the larger picture, and the bigger fish who need frying so very much.
But as an EU-wide plan, maybe like blue flags on beaches, for tourists, visitors, businesspeople, even residents themselves, to be able to travel around the continent – in full and safe knowledge that the bars and pubs and shops they visit do not actively contribute to crime – would be a magnificent step forwards to more secure societies and liberal civilisations all round.
A thought, but worth pursuing surely.
Talking of thoughts worth pursuing: tomorrow I graduate at the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool: the occasion is my MA in International Criminal Justice. I shall be back in Dublin late in the evening. It’s not that I am not afraid of being here right now: but to this beautiful country called Ireland I am committed emotionally at the very least. And for the next steps in my life I am now prepared. I look forward to making a job out of whatever comes my way.