‘I’m not sure I like the word torture. . . enhanced interrogation techniques was the phrase we settled on’
Illustration: Alan Clarke
My old man spent exactly three hours in the Gorda station after his recent arrest for failing to appear in court for various motoring offences. His court date, I might have mentioned, just so happened to clash with the verdict in the Anglo trial, which my old man was busy celebrating when he should have been in front of a judge himself to answer chorges of doing forty Ks in a 30 zone, using his mobile phone while driving and using his free hand to conduct Wagner on Lyric FM while steering with his knees.
He tried to claim the arrest was, like, politically motivated, what with it coming just two weeks before New Republic faced the electorate for the first time. Like I said – three hours he spent in there.
They processed him, then they let him out. They even phoned a taxi for the dude. The way he’s banging on about it, though, you’d swear he was Solomon focking Northup.
And of course, my son, with his natural hatred for the forces of law and order, is the perfect audience for him when he’s in this kind of form.
“I said to the arresting Guard,” the old man’s giving it, “as he was pushing my head down into one of these famous squad cars – quote-unquote. I said, ‘Are we living in Putin’s bloody well Russia now or something?’”
Ronan goes, “Good one, Grandda. I’d say that put him in heez box. And what did he say to that?”
“There wasn’t much he could say.”
“The doorty agriculchiddle fook.”
“Well, if it’s a crime to want to live in a country that values freedom – freedom from malicious arrest, freedom from the diktats of a European super state – then I’m proud to say that I served my time.”
I hate bursting his bubble in front of Ronan. Actually, that’s a lie. I love bursting his bubble in front of Ronan. “You didn’t even see the inside of a cell,” I go.
“You were in an interview room when I came to collect you, drinking coffee with the Gords and telling them about all the additional powers you’d give them if you got into government. The power to Taser anyone carrying a banner or placard with the word ‘rights’ on it was mentioned. You said the only people who ever talk about their rights were the poor. I heard you say that.”
Ronan comes rushing to his defence, of course. “You’re oatenly throying to smeerd him,” he goes. “You’re throying to blacken heez nayum and the nayum of New Repubalick.”
This is in my old man’s gaff, by the way, the day before the elections.
“I just hope the voters will see my arrest and detention for what it was,” the old man goes. “An attempt to subvert the will of the Irish people. A bloody well coup d’etat, if you’ll pardon the French.”
I can’t listen to any more. I’m like, “I’m out of here!” and I wander outside. It’s only as I’m turning the key in the cor that I remember the reason I called out to my old man’s gaff in the first place. My cor tax is due. It’s actually, like, overdue? So I tip back inside and wander back down to the study.
It’s just as I reach the half-open door that I overhear the orse-end of something my old man is saying to Ronan. He’s going, “When I saw the two Garda men approaching, well, I don’t mind telling you, little chap, I really thought the game was up.”
I possibly should just go in, except I end up just standing outside the door, listening in to their conversation.
“The gayum?” Ronan goes. “Are you saying there’s doort on you out there?”
The old man sort of, like, chuckles to himself. “Your grandfather is a man with many, many ghosts in his past, Ronan.”
“I love that about you, Grandda. You’re up to all sorts, so you are.”
“Well, thank you, Ronan. But unfortunately, when a policeman approaches me and asks me to accompany him to the station, I’m required to think, okay, which one of my many secrets have they found out about now?”
“It’s an occupationiddle hazard in your line, Grandda. So what’s the one you’re most woodied about?”
After a moment of silence, the old man goes, “Back in the day, Ronan – around 2001, 2002 – I bought some property in, let’s just say, Eastern Europe.”
“A lot of feddas did,” Ronan goes. “Nothing wrong wirrit.”
“It was, em, mostly warehouses in a docklands area. Wonderful development potential and what-not. Well, then the crash happened. It was lying idle. Costing me money. So, through the auspices of my good friend, Mr Hennessy Coghlan-O’Hara, I managed to rent it out to, well, let’s just say an agency.
“What koyunt of agency are we talking, Grandda?”
“The Central Intelligence Agency.
“Moy! Bleaten! Jaysus!”
“There was a war going on at the time. The – quote-unquote – War on Terror. And these chaps needed it for, well, questioning people who were suspected of committing acts of terrorism.”
“We’re talking torture, Grandda, are we?”
“I’m not sure I like the word torture, Ronan. It has certain connotations. I seem to recall that enhanced interrogation techniques was the phrase we settled on in our discussions.”
“Electhrodes attached to fedda’s knackers – all that?”
“Well, I’m not aware of the exact ins and outs of it.”
“But what are you woodied for? You haven’t done athin illegal, have you?”
“Well, let’s just say that certain aspects of the transaction weren’t exactly above board. I paid for the property using an offshore revenue stream that, well, the tax authorities may have been unaware of.”
“I get you. It wouldn’t look good for you politically if thee thraced the property to you.”
“Well, they won’t trace it to me. Well, not directly. I wasn’t stupid enough to have the property in my own name.”
“So whose name is it in?
“I needed someone who, for the price of a couple of thousand euros, would be prepared to put his name to any piece of paper that was placed in front of him.”
I suddenly push the door. The old man and Ronan turn and look at me with their mouths slung open.
I’m like, “That is one seriously boring conversation you two are having. By the way, I need two thousand yoyos. My cor tax is due.”
ILLUSTRATION: ALAN CLARKE