Christmas on the beat

Damien White

Posted on: 11th December, 2017

Category: Features

Contributor: West Cork People

Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for An Garda Síochána, a fact that many tend to forget, including our own government who made the decision to cancel Garda overtime this Christmas. Inevitably there is an increase in burglaries and a lot more people travelling on our roads and out socialising over the festive period, which leads to more crime and casualties.

Garda Damian White, 45, is from Clonakilty and stationed in Bandon. Damian looks on the bright side of being a Guard over Christmas, as well as giving some sound advice to the public on how to keep safe and out of trouble this year.


With two older brothers already in the job, Damian “caught the bug” and joined them as a member of An Garda Síochána in 1993.

He recalls how his first New Year’s Eve in the job was spent walking the beat on his own, in the snow, in Co. Monaghan, 260 miles away from home in West Cork. “I did wonder what I had let myself in for,” he says laughing.

Although of course it’s nicer being off work this time of year, Damian says there’s always a good buzz in the station, with everyone looking forward to Christmas and spending more time with family and friends. “Where possible we would try to make allowances for those with young children or far from home, but sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw,” he says. “We make the best of it. Being the job that it is, when you’re rostered to be on, that’s just the way it falls. It builds comaraderie though, as everyone pitches in. My first few Christmases working in the job, other older Gardaí invited me to their home for Christmas dinner. One year, I cooked dinner for 10 of us; it was no MasterChef effort, but no one got food poisoning at least!”

It’s also a time of year that many members of the public make their appreciation known. “We wouldn’t seek, or expect presents to be fair,” says Damian “but we do get cards from the public, and that appreciation is lovely. Small gestures can mean a great deal.”

Damian is off for Christmas this year, but is working over the New Year. Whatever his work hours, Damian and his wife try to maintain the focus on spending time together as a family, focusing Christmas around their children.

“Looking back, I think my parents always tried to keep Christmas as a real family time, with an emphasis on spending plenty of time together. My mother always had a great attention to detail for the traditional Christmas dinner. My father always ensured that there was a warm, blazing open fire on the go. There was always a focus on visiting the family graves, and placing a Christmas wreath on them, and that’s something that we still do; I think it’s important to maintain those traditions.

“The remainder of the working year can be so busy, it’s important to take a step back and catch up. My wife is from KerrSet featured imagey, so travelling to meet with her family there is always an important part of our Christmas. I have also inherited my father’s obsession with the warm fire, though we have a stove, as opposed to an open fire.”

A real people person, Damian loves his job in the community. “I enjoy meeting people, and being of help where possible. It’s important to focus on the positives, 99 per cent of people are excellent. It’s too easy to see the negatives. Pretty much all my work is community-related, covering from the cradle to the grave. My role allows me to interact with pre-schoolers all the way up to the elderly, and everyone in-between.

“I suppose we are present at the most traumatic of times for people and their families. You learn from experience, but of course we get affected by difficult cases; if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be human. It’s about trying to manage your emotions. I try not to say something just to fill the gap, because I believe that in difficult times, silence can be very respectful and important. It’s not easy, because our human nature means we want to help people, or fix something; but recognising the hurt, and giving it a safe, respectful space is important.”

It can be a feast or a famine in the station on Christmas Day. “It could be anything, or maybe nothing,” says Damian. “We might never get a call, but we still have to be on duty, just in case. Family disputes and domestic problems will occur because people aren’t used to spending so much time in each other’s company – they get cabin fever. The Christmas period is so busy on a social level – when more people are out and it’s busy, more things will go wrong – so that makes for a busy time for us.”

Damian’s advice to the public over Christmas involves being responsible, planning and being extra careful.

“If you’re going out, try to be responsible when socialising, plan your night, and look out for your friends. Be careful with your valuables, others will take advantage of the busy season. Stay safe at home, keep your windows and doors secure, and don’t leave presents on display or unattended. Take care when travelling on the road, think safety first. Never, ever drink and drive. Always have a designated driver, or plan your way home.

“I would like to send best wishes to all West Cork People readers for a very Happy Christmas, a peaceful New Year, and to thank them for their assistance and cooperation this past year.”

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Visiting restrictions in place at Bantry General Hospital due to Flu Presentations

Strict visitor restrictions have been put in place with immediate effect at Bantry General Hospital due to the number of patients who have presented with flu like symptoms.

In the interest of patient care and in order to restrict the spread of the flu virus within the hospital, it is necessary with immediate effect to ban all visitors to Bantry General Hospital, with the exception of following: critically ill patients are restricted to one visitor per critically ill patient and confined to visiting times only, and attendance at the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) and Local Injury Unit (LIU) should only take place if absolutely necessary, only one relative per patient attending these areas.

The elderly, children, pregnant women or young adults, those with chronic illnesses or vulnerable others are advised not to visit. Outpatient, Day care services and routine hospital admissions are not affected.

All infection control measures are in place and every effort is being made to manage and contain the spread of the flu virus.

People with flu like symptoms are advised to contact their GP by phone in the first instance and avoid presenting at the Emergency Department at Bantry General Hospital.

Bantry hospital staff are asking people to think about all their care and treatment options and keep ED services for the patients who need them most. Others with a less serious illness can be treated by their GP or out of hours GP service where their GP can refer them to an Assessment Unit the following day if required.
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8th January, 2018  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Cope Foundation's Happy Christmas from Cope Foundation. ... See MoreSee Less

What makes Christmas special? Children and adults we support, our incredible staff, families and supporters - these are the people who make our organisation so special every single day, but especially at Christmas! Meet some of them here... Thank you to the wonderful team at AV3 Media who kindly produced this video for us as a Christmas gift! To make a Christmas donation today, go to www.cope-foundation.ie/donate. We believe that together we can do great things and with your support we can do so much more! Please SHARE our video so that more people can learn about the amazing things that happen at Cope Foundation! Evening Echo; Irish Examiner; The Southern Star; The Avondhu; Cork Independent; West Cork Times; West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork; Bandon Opinion/The Opinion; Vale Star; East Cork Journal; Cork Chamber - Faces of Cork Business; Cork City FC; Cork Institute of Technology - CIT; University College Cork; Corks RedFM 104-106; The KC Show Corks 96 FM; Cork's 96FM; Cork's Best; C103 Cork; Cork Airport; Cork Opera House: The Everyman; Cork County Council; County Cork; Cork City Council; CorkLike; CCCahoots; Cork On Ice; Glow Cork; CIT Cork School of Music; RTÉ Today; Ciaran Bermingham - Actor; Rob & Marian Heffernan; John Spillane; Ger Wolfe; Eimear O'Brien PR; Jack O Rourke; Theo Dorgan; Mahon Point Shopping Centre; Blackpool Shopping Centre & Retail Park

18th December, 2017  ·  

This is the real spirit of Christmas at Caseys of Clonakilty. ... See MoreSee Less

Are you alone or do you know someone who will be alone this Christmas? If so, then we here at Casey’s would like to make your day that little bit easier. We are offering a full Christmas dinner on us! Christmas dinners can be collected Christmas Eve from 12:30pm - 8:30pm. Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas from everyone at Casey’s

15th December, 2017  ·  

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s has just announced its Christmas schedule and it features several programmes of interest to listeners in West Cork.

On New Year’s Day at 12.08 pm we’ll hear highlights from the Éigse Dhiarmuidín Festival that took place in West Cork in early December, remembering musician and broadcaster Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin. An Nollaig ar Oileán Chléire is an archive show presented by Mícheál Ó Sé on Wednesday 27 December at 5.30 pm about Christmas on Cape Clear and on Friday 29 December and 5 January at 7 pm, Peadar Ó Riada will bring us very special editions of his Cuireadh chun Ceoil programme from Múscraí. Keep an ear out!
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15th December, 2017  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Garda Síochána - Cork, Kerry & Limerick - Southern Region's photo. ... See MoreSee Less

REMINDER: An Garda Siochana are hosting a Retail Crime Prevention Meeting, to be held at 7pm on Wednesday 29th November 2017. This meeting will be held in the Munster Arms Hotel in Bandon. This meeting is one of a series being held across the West Cork Garda Division, in association with Operation Thor, the Garda National Anti-Crime Strategy. The purpose of the meeting is to increase the cooperation between Gardai and the retail sector, ensuring that the current low levels of crime in the locality extends past the busy approaching Christmas season. The meeting will be addressed by the local Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Ian O’ Callaghan, who will discuss burglary prevention, shoplifting, fraud, and cybercrime. There will be a particular focus on cash handling and cash exposure of businesses in the run up to the Christmas shopping period. All aspects of commercial crime will be discussed, and we would strongly urge all businesses to make a special effort to attend on the evening.

28th November, 2017  ·  

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