Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Much of the time it’s leg-work, trawling the Irish census, government sites, chambers of commerce. You call in on old contacts, grasses, those in the know; you seek tip offs. You follow up leads – expand on hazy knowledge, confront prejudice and cliché – they’re into horse racing aren’t they. Occasionally straight up questioning is useful, Cork’s a town for Murphy’s not Guinness how many people work in the brewery? Just ask – Murphy’s is a front for the operation, they’re part of the Heineken mob now, their people were helpful (440 employees nationally). The less context you give for your questions the better the result. Maersk threatened to sue when we asked what crew numbers were on some of their ships, too much context.
Then, of course, amid all the standard procedural work there is still room for the detective to have their moment of inspiration, the lateral leap that connects two known or knowable facts, the leap that brings a story together, that makes everything make sense and look the way it didn’t look before.
All cases remain open, lots of threads dangle unexplained and many crucial facts remain tantalisingly out of reach – how many dancers were on stage in the original Eurovision version of Riverdance? You could go on for ever. When things are getting a bit much I wish this research were my full time job – I’d be in my element.