Workers in uniform make writer uneasy

August 22nd, 2015 10:41 AM

By Southern Star Team

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Southern Star August 22 2015

Letters to EditorSIR – There was a time when having a certain type of job was just that – a job.

Now we have the tag ‘hero’ attaching to many of those employed in ordinary jobs. All wear uniforms, and whether this has a bearing on the new way of perceiving their working day is open to discussion. A fireman or woman is now called ‘firefighter’; ambulance drivers and crews are known as ‘first responders’ and airport security staff took the title of ‘police,’ even if we believe only the Gardai are legally charged with so naming their crime-fighting organisation.

There are more instances – too many to list, or remember. There appears to be a distinct militaristic bent to all of these jobs, where many wear the regulation ‘police’ blue shirt, and with all manner of paraphernalia hanging noisily from their mysterious utility waist belts.

They even have a new language when their work is being described by them. They are liable to call themselves ‘comrades’, ‘captain’, ‘front-liners’ and various titles which have crept in from the US since the 9/11 attacks. Can we put this new phenomenon down to the melodrama which carried forward from that?

There seems to be a detachment from the public apparent, which has crept into the psyche of employees in these normal employment positions. A sort of overall policing ethos amongst what used to be known as the public service.

Even the traffic wardens’ summer wear is the full paramilitary-police ensemble

of lovely blue shirt with prominent epaulets on the shoulders, dark trousers and stern military cap. Very impressive; I even saw a tourist step off the footpath the other day when he saw one coming towards him.

Have we entered the Judge Dredd era when everyone in uniform must be viewed with unquestionable authority? It can feel like that sometimes.

Does there have to be an uneasy ‘extra’ to people doing what was always considered public service?

Robert Sullivan,


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