The previous chapter focused on the experience of policing the Troubles for most gardaí. Of course, much of the specialist work relating to the Troubles and subversives in Ireland fell into the domain of the Special Branch. Special Branches of police forces are divisions tasked with intelligence-gathering in relation to terrorist or subversive crime. Within an Garda Síochána it is the only armed division and is therefore responsible for state protection, protection of cash in transit, armed responses, as well as operating the witness protection programme (Walsh 1998 ; Allen 1999 ). The nature of the work conducted by such departments within police forces makes them inherently controversial the world over. They operate at the far end of the policing spectrum, dealing with those who would seek to challenge their status and that of the state within which they operate. Working at these limits, ‘ordinary’ policing tactics are often ineffective and fail to suppress the threat (O’Reilly and Ellison 2005 ). The nature of their work makes maintaining the democratic balance exceptionally diffi cult. This is heightened in the Irish context where national security is a function of the police, unlike other countries where that task is often assigned elsewhere.