Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

A Return to Force Majeure as a Criterion on Parading?

Tue 22 January 2013, 10:31am

The current parades-related legislation is cumbersome and deeply irritating to many in Northern Ireland. Every procession with the sole exception of the Salvation Army must go through the process of filling out an 11/1 form and seeking an adjudication from the Parades Commission. That means not only Republican and Loyalist marches, but entirely non-contentious GAA and British Legion parades, gay pride parades and, yes, even the Boy Scouts.

 

Doubtless, the process could do with a significant degree of streamlining. OFMdFM’s attempt to produce something acceptable to both the DUP and Sinn Féin produced something even more bureaucratic and deeply restrictive, which outraged civil society. The proposals were rapidly ‘unagreed’ by the DUP when the Loyal Orders came out against.

 

Nobody likes the current arrangement, but the alternative is that we return to the mid-1990s scenario of the police making decisions on whether or not a parade should proceed based solely on public order grounds. That, as we all remember, politicised the police against their will, and led to a situation where the party to any dispute who could summon the greatest degree of disruption or violence won. It must obvious to all that any return to the status quo ante is a disaster for everyone, and in particular a disaster for anyone who believes that ensuring the police are impartial and seen to be impartial is a necessary criterion for peace and order in Northern Ireland.

 

It must be obvious to anyone… except perhaps the senior command of the PSNI. The first big mistake the force made on this score was on Black Saturday, 25 August, last year. The Grand Master of the Royal Black Preceptory in Belfast, William Mawhinney tore up the Parades Commission determination that no music should be played by bands on the stretch of Donegall Street passing St. Patrick’s Church. Bands on the parade took the hint and, encouraged by stewards, broke the law. The Young Conway Volunteers band, broke a determination that they should not parade on that part of the route after their antics on The Twelfth. The police chose not to intervene, citing public order concerns. Those concerns may have been real but they established a dangerous precedent. As far as I am aware, no follow-up charges have been made to incidents on Black Saturday despite ample video evidence (I stand open to correction).

 

Since Belfast City Council’s decision to fly the Union Flag according to the rules of Her Majesty the Queen, parts of Northern Ireland have been intermittently paralysed by loyalist protests, some taking the form of parades, some simply blocking roads in the form of a static picket. Without the necessary authorisation, which none of them has so much as applied for, these are all illegal. The police, again citing public order grounds, have not only tolerated these but actively facilitated them. The risk inherent in returning to an ad hoc system of parades management was amply demonstrated on 13 January, when hand-to-hand sectarian fighting erupted on the Albertbridge Road. I’m not in a position to play the blame game as I wasn’t there, but I find myself asking how the hell a parade managed to get along a route universally recognised as combustible for decades.

 

The current legislative framework surrounding parades, quite rightly, cites the right to freedom of assembly as the cornerstone of its decision-making process. The organisers of the flags protests have been – quite intentionally – causing disruption well beyond that needed to exercise the fundamental human right to freedom of assembly. For example, 400 or so flag protestors require that Donegall Square be closed for over an hour during prime Saturday afternoon retail hours. The following day, about twice that number of peace demonstrators could be accommodated on the City Hall pavement without the slightest disruption to traffic. Disruption is the explicitly stated purpose of most of the marches and all of the roadblocks.

 

The police cite overstretched resources as a reason for facilitating the protests and roadblocks. I can understand that – I’m not the one out on a freezing night having some over-testosteroned teenager try to use a flagpole as a halberd against me. There seems, however, to have been insufficient thought put into how overstretched police resources might be when the marching season arrives, if the police continue to allow themselves to be sucked into a game of permitting Loyalist parades due to threat of force majeure. It’s going to be pretty hard for the TSG to clear protestors off roads in Ardoyne or Rasharkin when the UVF is allowed to paralyse chunks of Greater Belfast for weeks.

 

The police will probably defend themselves from this sort of point by saying that they have not had sufficient political support from Unionist politicians (Basil McCrea excepted) to enforce the law. They may well be right. Unionist politicians also need to do some joined-up thinking as to where a return to force majeure as the grounds for permitting or restricting parades might lead.

 

Are the police slowly turning the corner this week? Monday night’s protestors on the Waterside were not going to be allowed to interfere with the Derry-Londonderry City of Culture extravaganza. One hopes that residents of inner city East Belfast – and Jim “this is not down to a flag” Wilson does not speak for all of them – will have their right to freedom of movement as respected as the prominenti of the North West. The shutting down of Facebook pages which encourage illegal protests – something that took about 24 hours in England in summer 2011 but has taken 7 weeks over here – may also mark a turning point. Sadly, the many overt threats made on social media seem unlikely to result in charges.

 

Being Chief Constable of the PSNI is about as tough a job as gets in policing. It inevitably involves difficult decisions around issues of deep inter-communal tension where political support is lacking. Matt Baggott knew that before he took the job. I have every sympathy with the invidious position he finds himself in, but he has to back himself out of this cul-de-sac before the Marching Season kicks off. Or we’re all in trouble.

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Comments (87)

  1. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    Gerry, I’m not sure if there is some fancy legal term for it but in real life the law is constantantly broken in some technical fashion by virtually everyone everyday, but in very minor ways.
    The police and other authorities only act in a very small number of cases, where the act is of a serious nature, or is repeated, or as an example deterrant to others.
    But law breaking is also punished by public opinion and the conscience of the law breaker, no minor matter and in the case of the Royal Black Institution and not taken lightly by members when they chose to disobey a idotic and drconian ruling.
    Well over 95% of parades are non-contenscious, but they still required administering of some sort, unfortunately the DUP & SF made a complete dogs dinner of the PC replacement, the OO rightly rejected it, for much the same reason civil society did.
    We need a proper system that keeps things simple for simple parades and fexible for larger ones, and where disagreements and breaches can be sorted out before ruling or legal action take place.
    It is possible, but is there political will to do so from the big two?

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  2. carl marks (profile) says:

    I look forward with interest to the 12th, as you say Gerry the police have set a precedent they will be judged by the nationalist community in how they deal with roads blocked by nationalists.
    Unless the kid gloves are worn in the same manner as displayed by the treatment of loyalists then we will see widespread discontent among the nationalist community.
    I certainly don’t expect the same support of the right to protest that most unionists both politicians and bloggers on this site have declared is a principal of a free society, but inconsistency and hypocrisy are the norm among that group. Indeed I put this point to both Pete Baker and Framer and surprise surprise I got no answer
    Failure by the police to handle this right could be a big shot in the arm for the dissidents’ and we can be sure that they are already putting their plans in place to exploit the situation and to be honest the PSNI will have no one to blame but themselves, when you give a opponent something to beat you with don’t be surprised if you get beaten.
    This will be a very interesting marching season!

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  3. carl marks (profile) says:

    Drumlins Rock
    “But law breaking is also punished by public opinion and the conscience of the law breaker, no minor matter and in the case of the Royal Black ”
    Dr will you have the same opinion if nationalists decide to ignore idiotic and draconian rulings from the PC,
    Remember the law is the law and I’m afraid “idiotic and draconian ruling” is a matter of opinion and not a fact.

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  4. seanoceallaigh (profile) says:

    After watching as much as I can take of the footage of the protests, both amateur and professional, It’s my opinion that the PSNI have been more than tolerant and measured in their response. You are correct in saying that the vast majority of these protests are in their conception illegal, and on more than one level, illegal. The organisers of these protests are not engaging in discussion, and in their failure to comply with the rule of law, by not putting forward their protest to the parades commission for judgement by failing to fill out the 11/1 Form, shows arrogance of the protest and qualifies the message redundant. It’s my opinion that misinformed people are being organised on fascist terms for unclear gains that can’t come through aggression and failure to follow the rule of law.

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  5. carl marks (profile) says:

    ory DR meant to include this part in the quote from you.

    “and not taken lightly by members when they chose to disobey a idotic and drconian ruling.”

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  6. Nevin (profile) says:

    “I’m not the one out on a freezing night having some over-testosteroned teenager try to use a flagpole as a halberd against me.”

    Gerry, you’ve left out another key factor, the homes and families of these police officers. The Chief Constable and those who give him political direction must consider their possible fate.

    As a political specialist can you shed some light on who provides such direction in this era of devolution of policing and justice? Can I assume that the role of British and Irish civil servants in day-to-day decision making on contentious decisions didn’t feature in your politics university course?

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  7. carl marks (profile) says:

    Nevin
    Gerry, you’ve left out another key factor, the homes and families of these police officers. The Chief Constable and those who give him political direction must consider their possible fate.
    So we are back to violence rules, Nevin ask yourself honestly, would you put forward the theory that the police should let the dissidents do as they like because they could be a threat to police constables and their families.

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  8. Neil (profile) says:

    Ardoyne will very much be compared to the illegal Loyalist protests/riots. I expect that as per usual the protestors in Ardoyne will be trailed off the road by their hair if necessary. Can’t keep Orangemen waiting now. Costing the economy jobs, 22 million in policing and lost business is small beer when there’s a parade coming.

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  9. Ulster Press Centre (profile) black spot says:

    OP fails to recognise the GAA is as offensive to Unionists as Loyalist bands and Loyal orders are to Nationalists.

    How about an independent commission on sectarian sports?

    Or an independent commission to rule on offensive murals, plaques, memorials and ‘gardens of remembrance’?

    Or an independent commission to rule on contentious, offensive candidates wanting to stand for election?

    Lets have real equality in Northern Ireland in 2013.

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  10. carl marks (profile) says:

    Ulster Press Centre
    “OP fails to recognise the GAA is as offensive to Unionists as Loyalist bands and Loyal orders are to Nationalists.”

    where does vthe GAA march through loyalist/unionist areas.

    “Or an independent commission to rule on offensive murals, plaques, memorials and ‘gardens of remembrance’?”

    you wanna watch that one it will affect loyalist areas as much as anywhere else.

    “Or an independent commission to rule on contentious, offensive candidates wanting to stand for election?

    Again works both ways, if you find someone on my side offensive then i will find someone on your side offensive.

    Grow up UPC

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  11. tacapall (profile) says:

    The truth is that the PSNI after various meetings with loyalist paramilitaries, the same paramilitaries who the PSNI say were directing the violence, have decided they now have the power to enforce the law, they have been given permission by loyalist paramilitaries to arrest those among them who cant be controlled or take action against those who would be classed as a threat to the authority of the armchair generals and bar stool loyalists whos idealism is flexible for the right price. The PSNI have dug themselves a rather large hole that is going to be exploited to the full come the marching season. I can just imagine the outrage from Unionism if the PSNI were to facilitate GARC, RNU or Erigi in the disruption of peoples rights to use the public highways by engaging in blocking roads to marchers. Imagine the outcry if the protests led to violence and the PSNI accused Erigi, GARC or RNU of orchestrating it, then entered into negotiations with them to end it. Imagine Sinn Fein and the SDLP endorsing the protesters right to disrupt but condemning the violence, or creating a Nationalist only forum at Stormont to politically speak for those who blocked the roads and engaged in violence, demanding that they be treated differently that they were somehow worse off than everyone else educationally, financially and economically how their rights were being walked over even though the facts proved otherwise. Interesting times ahead.

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  12. Red Lion (profile) says:

    When will unionist politicians ever have the ability to engage in ‘joined up thinking’? They are virtually all simply not capable of this type of semi-advanced intellectual thinking. In short, most of them are as thick as 2 short planks. Theres more hope of a cow jumping over the moon.

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  13. Nevin (profile) says:

    Carl, the police and prison officers are public servants, public servants who get to carry out the difficult tasks of the state – or in the case of NI, to implement the agreed strategy of London and Dublin.

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  14. streetlegal (profile) says:

    The loyalist flag protests fall under the remit of British Intelligence, because of their close connections with the UVF and UDA leadership. That is why Matt Baggott has taken the ‘softly softly’ approach – he has been told to do so. For the very same reason the loyalist flag marches have not – and will not – be referred for a Parades Commission decision.

    British Intelligence has no connection with dissident republican protesters in Ardoyne, so we will see that Matt Baggott will have a free hand in clearing them from the streets, All things have a logical explanation.

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  15. carl marks (profile) says:

    The unionists posters so far on this thread have already displayed an inability to engage in joined up thinking,
    We can expect to see more of this as the marching season approaches, policing will be crucial to how it goes this year and I’m afraid that the PSNI have put themselves in a bad position.
    If they force protesters of the road at Ardoyne they will be guilty of uneven application of the law, if they don’t the unionists will discover a new found respect for the law and accuse the PSNI of giving into threats (ignoring the actions of the police over the last month) either way the shit is going to hit the fan.
    As i have said before amazing the damage 40000 leaflets can do!

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  16. Neil (profile) says:

    Or an independent commission to rule on contentious, offensive candidates wanting to stand for election?

    Ain’t democracy a bitch. Still haven’t got it. You, among others (like Peter the Punt) could do with realising that the people your community vote for could be construed as offensive by Nationalists. I imagine if you really tried you could see that Ian in his ‘Pope is the Anti-Christ’, marching up the Falls to remove a tricolour days was offensive to the majority of Nationalists. That’s before we talk about the sectarian murderers of the PUP/UVF. All of whom people are perfectly within their rights to elect (democracy ya see), but going by your rules that would not be the case.

    Offense is in the eye of the beholder you see. You don’t dictate what people find offensive, so when you talk about gardens of remembrance I think of the British Army while you think of the IRA. What’s good for the goose.

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  17. carl marks (profile) says:

    streetlegal
    British Intelligence has no connection with dissident republican protesters in Ardoyne,

    Wouldn’t be too sure about that one!

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  18. tacapall (profile) says:

    If you have any evidence of that Carl please feel free to put it into the public domain. Streetlegal is correct that the violence and disorder these past 8 weeks has been allowed to continue because the British establishment allowed it to continue, loyalist protestors and loyalist paramilitaries represent British interests in Ireland.

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  19. keano10 (profile) says:

    Gerry,

    Just curious. Have you any evidence to back up your assertion that the PSNI will not be prosecuting individuals for threats that they have made on Facebook and other social media sites?

    Surely this would be very surprising?

    The Loyalist Flag Protests sites have contained numerous direct threats from people using their own identies. I recall seeing one post from an individual who had posted the name and address of a female Alliance Parrty councillor with the words “Kill that bitch” alongside the photograph. Maybe I am missing something here but how does that threat not fall within some sort of legal definition, be it threatening behaviour or something else?

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  20. carl marks (profile) says:

    If British does not have agents inside the dissident groups then I would be very surprised, and no not being a member of a dissident group or a member of British intel i have no proof, except the weight of history

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  21. carl marks (profile) says:

    tacapall
    I accept that streetlegal is correct because while British Intel will have agents in the dissident groups they own the loyalists.

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  22. Barnshee (profile) says:

    The change required is relatives simple

    Parades Commission Approval required -no approval -criminal offence created -clear the streets

    All approved parades must lodge cash sum or insurance policy as indemnity for potential damage/police costs

    End of

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  23. tacapall (profile) says:

    Your assumptions are well founded Carl and history does back up what you say but being stupid once doesn’t mean you always have to be stupid. If British intelligence had the power to influence groups like GARC, Erigi or RNU then they wouldn’t be protesting at Ardoyne.

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  24. carl marks (profile) says:

    GNU ERIGI etc give British Intel something they need to keep the budget going, an enemy.
    I believe someone once called it the soviet super sub theory without something to “defend” against these people would find it difficult to justify their existence.

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  25. Nevin (profile) says:

    “That means not only Republican and Loyalist marches, but entirely non-contentious GAA and British Legion parades, gay pride parades and, yes, even the Boy Scouts.”

    Gerry, I doubt very much if loyalist and republican paramilitaries apply for permission for all of their parades or if they divest themselves of paramilitary trappings when on parade.

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  26. carl marks (profile) says:

    Alas both in the case of British Intel and me stupidity can and often is repetitive, what can I say!

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  27. carl marks (profile) says:

    Nevin
    “That means not only Republican and Loyalist marches, but entirely non-contentious GAA and British Legion parades, gay pride parades and, yes, even the Boy Scouts.”

    Gerry, I doubt very much if loyalist and republican paramilitaries apply for permission for all of their parades or if they divest themselves of paramilitary trappings when on parade.

    Sorry Nevin i don’t get you point could you explain it to me please,

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  28. tacapall (profile) says:

    Thankfully not all Irish people are as predictable Carl but if your going to use the past to judge the present in terms of British intelligence infiltrating political organisations then its Sinn Fein who you should look at closely. Thats where they can disrupt and direct republican strategy in the interests of Britain. Pouring resources into infiltrating political groups that block roads is kinda financially and productively unviable. Unless of course it is they who seek some purpose in blocking roads off to Orange Parades.

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  29. Obelisk (profile) says:

    Am I wrong to fear that the upcoming summer is going to be one of the most bitter for quite a while?

    If the police respond to Nationalists blockading Orange parades more forcefully than they have dealt with the flag protesters then I cannot help but think it will deal serious damage to Nationalist support for the police.

    This is the thin edge of the wedge, this is how it begins turning young people against the state.

    After the Protesters are cleared off the street, and after the Orangemen go walking past, and as they tend their wounds from being dragged off the road they are going to be sitting there thinking back to now and wondering why they were baton charged and the Flag Protesters got a soft touch.

    And that’s when the dissidents will begin to spread their poison amongst them. Hell, given the police response to the Flag Protests is it not in the dissident’s interests to stir up as much tension in advance of the marching season to provoke this outcome?

    The leadership of the PSNI have made a rod for their own backs with this, they really have and I believe this is going to be an unpleasant year. Was probably going to be an unpleasant marching season anyway but it has been made worse by the incompetence of the PSNI leaders.

    I would LOVE for someone to tell me my fears are unfounded and that my view of the situation is too negative.

    Anyone?

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  30. carl marks (profile) says:

    tacapall
    then its Sinn Fein who you should look at closely.

    agreed.

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  31. Nevin (profile) says:

    “Sorry Nevin i don’t get you point could you explain it to me please,”

    Carl, did you not read Gerry’s post? He said those organisations had to apply for permission to parade.

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  32. carl marks (profile) says:

    Obelisk
    I think your completely correct unfortunately.
    I support the Police, but members of my family will be at the protests in Ardoyne and if the police treat them differentially from the way they treated the loyalists then myself and many Nationalists will have to reconsider that support.

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  33. Neil (profile) says:

    I’d say you’re bang on the money.

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  34. carl marks (profile) says:

    Nevin
    Since your back, since you believe that the police should base the tactics used against loyalists on the danger to police officers and their families that loyalists present, do you think that they should do the same as regards the dissidents, and give them the same freedom to disrupt they give the loyalists.

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  35. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    The Parades Commission ruling rewarded Force Majeure in Ardoyne last year. And it’s all gone downhill ever since.

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  36. ArdoyneUnionist (profile) says:

    Mick that is the most coherent statement I have heard on here for some time.

    If the Unionist and Loyalists have learnt anything over the last few years it that Force Majeure is working for republicans and against peaceful parades.

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  37. carl marks (profile) says:

    Mick Fealty (profile)
    22 January 2013 at 2:41 pm

    The Parades Commission ruling rewarded Force Majeure in Ardoyne last year. And it’s all gone downhill ever since.

    Indeed mick, maybe you would like to go into a bit more detail on that?

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  38. tacapall (profile) says:

    Yes Mick exactly what did Force Majeure get the people of Ardoyne that it didn’t get loyalists in Ballyclare in 2011 ?

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  39. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    CM,

    Depends how much detail you want.

    The Orange were given a punitive ruling after three straight years of Ardoyne kicking off, in the first year (look up Gonzo’s excellent eye witness report, there wasn’t an Orangeman in sight.

    It’s been a mess every year since 09 (we had reports in 06/07 of golf balls and coins being thrown) but this year it was mayhem on both sides. I know because spoke to some very tired and angry people on both sides that night.

    The point is Gerry is right, force majeure is rapidly becoming the governing factor. But it is important to note how it began and, sadly, where it is headed.

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  40. Neil (profile) says:

    But it is important to note how it began

    You mean Drumcree or before that Mick?

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  41. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Very droll Neil… 1169 do ya? :-)

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  42. carl marks (profile) says:

    Mick Fealty
    To claim that Ardoyne last year is where it all started is so wrong. How far would you like to take this back, how does 1969 sound or the UWC lockout to see force Majeure, I’m sure our unionist bloggers can point to other events, we could also look at the times before last year when the OO and its fellow travellers went nuts when things didn’t go their way, Springfield rd, Dumcree, short strand etc.

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  43. Nevin (profile) says:

    “Since your back, since you believe that the police should base the tactics ..”

    Carl, it’s not sinking in; you appear to be under the impression that the Chief Constable is his own boss.

    The police have had to operate within the political confines laid down by London, sometimes in association with Dublin. Haven’t you read the Dick Spring briefing? Why do you think further broadcasting of the briefing was pulled? I was hoping that Gerry, a political specialist and former APNI Chief Executive, might be able to shed some light on the impact of devolution on political policing, if any.

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  44. carl marks (profile) says:

    Mick i have to go out for a little while but perhaps you could give the date for when we should record our present troubles from, most people would regard the UVFs actions at Malvern St or paisleys march into Davis St, however you seem to regard Ardoyne last year as a starting point, that is very convenient for the unionist viewpoint. I believe most observers would disagree with you.

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  45. ArdoyneUnionist (profile) says:

    Everything going great with this post, republicans all over it giving it large, until Mick through in that wee hand grenade. Now we have all sorts of whataboutery.

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  46. carl marks (profile) says:

    Nevin
    You said,
    “Gerry, you’ve left out another key factor, the homes and families of these police officers. The Chief Constable and those who give him political direction must consider their possible fate.”
    I asked,
    So we are back to violence rules, Nevin ask yourself honestly, would you put forward the theory that the police should let the dissidents do as they like because they could be a threat to police constables and their families.
    You replied,
    Carl, the police and prison officers are public servants, public servants who get to carry out the difficult tasks of the state – or in the case of NI, to implement the agreed strategy of London and Dublin.
    You avoided the question so I asked again.
    It’s really quite simple, either
    A/ anybody who threatens police or their families should be let off with breaking the law,
    B/ only my side should be let off with breaking the law if they are a threat to police officers or their families.
    C/ threats against police officers or their families should have no effect on the police doing their duty.
    The last one is the only way to run a civilised society; any other way is to give into barbarism.
    again you avoid the question.

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  47. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    AU,

    Please..? Things are febrile enough in the real world without winding people up.

    cs,

    You will have to take my word for it, it’s all in Slugger, I just don’t have time to go and dig it up for you. Use the archives?

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  48. PaddyReilly (profile) says:

    The fancy legal term (as per first comment) is ‘De minimis non curat lex’.

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  49. Nevin (profile) says:

    Carl, I merely pointed out that the protection of the homes and families of officers was a factor that Gerry had left out. They are currently under threat from extreme unionists and nationalists. Were they all to walk away then we would be in a much worse state.

    On the other hand, those from London and Dublin who have directed the police will be more interested in protecting the main interests of their respective governments.

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  50. carl marks (profile) says:

    Mick Fealty
    I’m on record both here and in Ardoyne (many a interesting night in the star defending my point) in being opposed to the regular riots that take place there, and while i would be the first to admit that there are elements in Ardoyne who for their own reasons want to stir things up (they have their counterparts across the road so to speak) I do think that claiming that last year was the beginning of force Majeure in this place is to ignore a awful lot of history.
    Now I am more than willing to debate the point with you, but perhaps we could stick to the thread and maybe get your opinion on whether the PSNI handling of the protests will have a effect on their handling of the protests around the 12th , what do you think the reaction inside nationalism will be if there is no softly softly approach as used on loyalists.
    And what do you think the reaction inside unionism will be if there is a softly softly approach towards the nationalist protesters.?

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  51. Red Lion (profile) says:

    There is the little matter that the flag protests and ardoyne have their own unique features, which the police have to take into account meaning different policing operational tactics to deal with both.

    Flags-there were several thousand protestors at various locations disrupting the entire country. Although illegal, the big majority were non-violent. Also in winter, after dark and difficult to identify and make arrests. As the protests have dwinded in size and location the police are better able to take a more robust approach, and they have made scores of arrests anyway and more likely to come.

    Ardoyne, 1 location, 1 day, broad daylight height of summer. Much much easier to centralise police resources and a different dynamic ensues.

    Not that those who feed the mobs will care for such subtleties.

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  52. carl marks (profile) says:

    Red Lion

    Do you honestly think such differences (I’m not agreeing with your argument) will matter to those on both sides who wish to stir the whole thing up.
    The handling of this whole flag protest nonsense by the police has left a lot to be desired, perhaps your right and I’m wrong but that will make no difference come the 12th if the police use force to move the Ardoyne protesters blocking the roads, comparisons will be made(not entirely unfairly) to the treatment given to loyalists blocking the roads, and as I say the shit will hit the fan.

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  53. Red Lion (profile) says:

    Carl Marks, read my final sentence on previous post..

    But there are significant difference between the flags protest (lasting several weeks, thousands of people, different locations, majority of protests peaceful), and Ardoyne – 1 day, 1 riot, broad daylight.

    As the 2 situations have significant differences, the police operations have to have their unique features to meet these challenges.I’m only repeating myself, really.

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  54. carl marks (profile) says:

    Red Lion
    So all that has to be done in Ardoyne to ensure they get blocking the road is organise a lot of protests at the same time around the north, and you will understand the lack of action by the police.
    Or another way of looking at it is that any blocking of roads is illegal peaceful or not and if the police had applied the law from the beginning we would not be having this conversation.
    It’s more than passing strange that in Ballyclare (a isolated incident) that the police applied the same tactics as they applied to the flag protesters, how does that fit into your theory

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  55. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    cs,

    “claiming that last year was the beginning of force Majeure in this place” That’s not what I said. Thus the attempt at light humour with the references to 1169.

    I was addressing Gerry’s point that the PC had usefully taken us away from force majeure as the deciding factor in whether a parade was allowed or not.

    But it was they who spiked their own guns last year by acceding to demands that the Orangemen be up the road by 4pm. Not, of course, that it solved the problem.

    The problem will only be solved once they are stopped from going up the road at all (and force majeure will be triumphant once again).

    They have now established their right to riot and their to have their riot listened to. No wonder the rest of the summer was a mess.

    The flegs protest has been another mess. Some of their success has been in their free ranging use of social media to self organise.

    The recent arrests may because the cops now think they’ve got the right instigators over time (not that they got much covering fire from any politicians for having the nous to do that).

    The capacity of the ‘tribal heads’ to deal with all of these issues is diminishing with their inability to express civil power, civilly together:

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  56. tacapall (profile) says:

    Red Lion the PSNI didn’t know how long the flag protests were going to go on and from day one at BCH they facilitated the protestors rather than enforcing the law like they did at Ardoyne. Also did the PSNI claim GARC, RNU or Erigi were directing the violence then had private meetings with them to negotiate an agreement that would see the protests continue but without the organisers directing attacks on their officers.

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  57. carl marks (profile) says:

    Mick Fealty
    The whole thing is a mess,
    Unionist politicians didn’t help during the protests and it remains to be seen what Nationalist politicians do to head off a very serious problem.
    I do know many of the people in Ardoyne hoping an working to resolve this whole thing peacefully and can tell you that they think a difficult job has been made much harder.

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  58. Red Lion (profile) says:

    Tacaapall the protests were numerous and with numbers involved from the start, and plans for a month of daily protests came out pretty quickly.

    There has been significant histories of republicans having illegal parades and the police standing back – prob right to do so in the wider need not to inflame, but the Orange Order worked itself into a lather
    .

    CarlMarks
    “”So all that has to be done in Ardoyne to ensure they get blocking the road is organise a lot of protests at the same time around the north, and you will understand the lack of action by the police.””

    Yup, thats about right, I think you are understanding where i am coming from – if there were province wide disruption, the police are likely to adopt a certain approach, all things considered, to try to minimise province wide disruption and due to their own resources.(The police have been absolutely stretched past few weeks) Every situation different of course, but mostly likely a different approach from where there is disorder not on a widespread scale.

    I’m sure the police will look at its operations and thin k yeah room for improvement here, and there, but overall they did a halfdecent job, and took a hell of a lot of violence and near death misses

    Is itreally hard to concede that the police approach to large scale province wide disruption and to a localised disruption should be different?

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  59. carl marks (profile) says:

    Is it really hard to concede that the police approach to large scale province wide disruption and to a localised disruption should be different?
    No but Tacs point is valid the first protest did take the police by surprise but they didn’t become widespread (and to be honest it wasn’t province wide or as if there were dozens going on at once) for a few days, by then the police had established a pattern of letting the roads get blocked.
    I understand the police had a difficult time but with the best will in the world i think that even today the attitude still exists among many that they treat loyalists differentially than they treat republicans

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  60. DC (profile) says:

    Unless Alliance can get a shared future which writes in designated days permanently as a law that all councils follow then this designated days outcome will be nothing other than transitory.

    There was at least one or two more tricks left out of the union flag, it could have flown for a wee while yet before it gets taken down for good like Limavady and Strabane. Very recently Limavady Unionists tried to get the flag up on designated days under shared future but nationalists said no. There is no union flag there.

    Which would indicate that political nationalism’s long term policy is for neutrality and any Alliance ‘progress’ will likely be short lived and if so a bit pointless given its history in unionist communities.

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  61. carl marks (profile) says:

    DC

    Give it a break on alliance please,
    “Which would indicate that political nationalism’s long term policy is for neutrality”
    Apart from nationalism repeatedly stating that was their policy and putting it in the manifestos what was your first clue?

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  62. Red Lion (profile) says:

    And you should hear loyalist rioters views of the police

    Not to mention the ongoing dissident threat

    And the yearly shenangans over the 12th

    Not forgetting trying to carry out normal policing in the middle of al thisl ‘normality’.

    But it wasgenuinely good to hear you Carl Marks acknowledge that the police have a difficult job and don’t have it easy, a lot of people in NI would rather stick pins in their eyes than acknowledg that.

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  63. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    CS,

    Of course it is. Because the force majeure is working. Why give up now?

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  64. carl marks (profile) says:

    But it wasgenuinely good to hear you Carl Marks acknowledge that the police have a difficult job and don’t have it easy, a lot of people in NI would rather stick pins in their eyes than acknowledg that.

    as i said in my very first post i support the police,
    And believe it or not I have friends in the PSNI, my other life outside work brings me into contact with them (non trouble related) on a regular basis,
    So I guess familiarity does not breed contempt

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  65. carl marks (profile) says:

    Mick Fealty (profile)
    22 January 2013 at 8:29 pm

    CS,

    Of course it is. Because the force majeure is working. Why give up now?

    Mick CS hasnt posted on this thread was that meant for me.
    which one of my posts do you refer to?

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  66. carl marks (profile) says:

    sorry mick, made the connection, im not as quick as i should be, and you are right.

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  67. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    My fault. I’ve been calling you cs all thread for some reason… sorry..

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  68. carl marks (profile) says:

    I forgave you, wither CS will is another matter!
    im off now Mr Attanborough is on.

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  69. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    ArdoyneUnionist

    If the Unionist and Loyalists have learnt anything over the last few years it that Force Majeure is working for republicans and against peaceful parades.

    You seem to be implying that unionists are preparing to abandon peaceful and democratic means on the basis that unionists are not getting what they want. I find that comment very revealing. It confirms what I know which is that unionists commitment to peaceful democratic means is strong only for as long as it allows them to get what they want. As soon as those lawful mechanisms begin to work against them they reserve the right to abandon them.

    The flag protestors are deploying “Force Majeure”. It is not, as per your ridiculous characterisation, a lesson they have obtained from republicans; they are simply deploying a tactic that they have learned from their parents and grandparents; tactics which have been used over and over and over since the first major occasion when they deployed it which was at the time the Northern Ireland state was founded. The history of the last 40 or more years is replete with events where unionism, often masked and hooded, came onto the streets in numbers to deploy illegal blockades and frustrate the normal workings of the country in order to force their will.

    I have no doubt that those protesting on the streets on these evenings will have grown up listening to the stories from their parents and grandparents about the time when they stopped “the fenians” in their tracks during the UWC strike in 1974 and the various other civil disobedience and “day of action” events in the 1970s and 1980s, and of course at Drumcree. So please stop with this ridiculous notion that these protestors are all lily-white delicate innocent types learning tricks from the people they don’t like.

    To the wider point, the truth is that the demands of certain unionists regarding marching, and indeed flags, and a number of other things are not reasonable and they are not normal in any other democratic country, never mind a country where constitutional issues and identity are hotly contested. The extent to which republicans are acting to impede those demands is nothing when compared to the extent with which those demands are impeded elsewhere in the UK.

    For example there is no way an organization which behaved in the way that band did outside St Patricks would ever be allowed to march that route again in any other part of the UK. It wouldn’t happen. Provocative marches and demonstrations – demonstrations which would undoubtedly have been peaceful – planned at Wooton Bassett by Islam4UK were banned by the British government with the support of the DUP.

    Likewise there is no way that the kind of violence, rioting and other stuff that has happened over flags would be tolerated elsewhere in the UK. The protests being seen would be shut down and established politicians would be condemning the protestors and rioters as fascist elements who represent no-one.

    In addition there is no way an event like the 11th night bonfire where people light uncontrolled fires and burn tyres furniture, rubbish, national flags and pictures of politicians would be tolerated elsewhere in the UK or Europe.

    Stop pretending that you are being oppressed and get on board with the reality. The cultural expression that you demand – and the extent to which it is tolerated – is unprecedented in any other democratic country. Instead of setting your face against tiny compromises, please try to switch your focus to preserving what you have currently got by negotiating with your neighbours and by bringing them into the 21st century – or face a long, slow bleed of all those things into extinction.

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  70. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Gerry is correct to draw a line through the events of last summer up to and including the present. It is a line I would draw back, back through the 2005 Whiterock riots and back through the worst excesses of the Drumcree period. It’s all about unionism adopting a policy of constructive ambiguity about law and order, and exactly what those words mean, in order to try to create instability which they hope will be to their benefit.

    The last time these tactics ever successfully accomplished anything was 1974, and even then the victory was a phyrric one as the failure of Sunningdale set the scene for the long list of concessions and losses which unionists found themselves being compelled to take subsequently. Seamus Mallon famously talked about “Sunningdale for slow learners” but, apart from Mr Basil McCrea, Mr McClarty and a few honourable others it seems that the learners are still slow. They still believe they can use these extra-legal tactics to fight battles which are impossible to win, and political leaders still feel that the best leadership they can provide is to egg them on rather than to restrain them.

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  71. carl marks (profile) says:

    I believe this quote from Drumlin Rock (the first on this thread) proves your point.

    “But law breaking is also punished by public opinion and the conscience of the law breaker, no minor matter and in the case of the Royal Black Institution and not taken lightly by members when they chose to disobey a idotic and drconian ruling.”

    Unionism while lecturing the rest of us on law and order reserves the right to break the law when it doesn’t suit them.

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  72. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    DR’s view of the law sounds rather like that of Jamie Bryson when he was convicted for possession of an offensive weapon :

    “I have decided not to enter any plea in this case. I have taken this decision beased the fact that I believe I stand innocent before God’s law, however by the letter of this law I could be viewed as guilty.””

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  73. DC (profile) says:

    Alternatively now that nationalists disagree with blocking roads peacefully, this summer should be really quiet. I take it they will no longer be out doing this like they used to do seeing as they are now four square behind law and order.

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  74. carl marks (profile) says:

    Alternatively now that nationalists disagree with blocking roads peacefully, this summer should be really quiet. I take it they will no longer be out doing this like they used to do seeing as they are now four square behind law and order.2

    I don’t know about anybody else but i am, are you?

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  75. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    He’s trolling. Again.

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  76. ArdoyneUnionist (profile) says:

    Comrade Stalin

    “If the Unionist and Loyalists have learnt anything over the last few years it that Force Majeure is working for republicans and against peaceful parades”.

    “You seem to be implying that unionists are preparing to abandon peaceful and democratic means on the basis that unionists are not getting what they want. I find that comment very revealing”

    I am not implying anything; I’m just making the observation. You are the one who is making leap from observation to implying something that isn’t there.

    As for Gerry’s article it’s obviously upset that people in a raucous debate hacked him.

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  77. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Comrade, unlike yourself, DC has strayed over the line on many occasions and had his cards for his pains.

    But in this case, he has a point. I’ve heard lots of nationalists calling for the exact same interventions the PSNI impose every year on the rioting in Ardoyne.

    The underlying political problem is that support for the cops is for too many players a conditional (for which read expedient) affair.

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  78. carl marks (profile) says:

    ArdoyneUnionist
    Are you seriously trying to claim that unionists have never resorted to violence when they don’t get their way? Please don’t insult our intelligence that argument might work on somebody who knows absolutely nothing about this place.
    Loyalist and OO parades are only peaceful when they get their way, as for peaceful unionists could I point out something that you are familiar with, the holy cross protest it sort of hits your argument on the head doesn’t it.
    Please stop this crude propaganda and join the real world you would get a bit more respect if you didn’t insult other peoples intelligence.

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  79. carl marks (profile) says:

    But in this case, he has a point. I’ve heard lots of nationalists calling for the exact same interventions the PSNI impose every year on the rioting in Ardoyne.
    Yes Mick as far as I’m concerned the cops should use their muscle on all rioters regardless of what tribe they belong to.thats what we pay them for.
    I might disagree with PC rulings but I believe in the rule of law, the problem is when the police apply their muscle in different levels to different tribes, and by the way your statement can be applied to unionists as well, as we can see from the statements or lack there off from unionist politicians on the violence around the flag protests.

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  80. carl marks (profile) says:

    ArdoyneUnionist
    As for Gerry’s article it’s obviously upset that people in a raucous debate hacked him.

    I believe most (reasonable) observers after watching the debate on the Nolan show would agree that Gerry and Chris showed more dignity than the mob that seemed determined to shout down anybody who disagreed with them.
    To suggest that this thread is a result of huffing over being Hackled on the show, is really very silly and shows your myopic tendency to see only what you want.
    The show was not a victory for loyalists; it was a demonstration of loyalist’s tendency to try to bully people who disagree with them and a very public and unsuccessful one at that.

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  81. ArdoyneUnionist (profile) says:

    Carl, I must remember that when I see several shinners harangue RTE reporter’s when they ask the politburo embarrassing questions.

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  82. carl marks (profile) says:

    ArdoyneUnionist (profile)
    23 January 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Carl, I must remember that when I see several shinners harangue RTE reporter’s when they ask the politburo embarrassing questions.

    Indeed you must,
    I have no more time for them than i have for you.

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  83. carl marks (profile) says:

    Mick
    I get the point that you make about support for the police is conditional for many people.
    But I support the police and I also believe that support for anything should be conditional especially as important a group as the police.
    It’s the conditions that count I can think of things that have been done by the police that I most certainly don’t support (none apply at the moment), perhaps I’m being pedantic but I think it’s a point worth making.

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  84. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    You do, I might. But do our politicians? Most of the time, yes. The test is when it gets too close to home.

    BTW, don’t forget the ball, whilst you are clattering into the man. Soccer rules here, not Gaelic!

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  85. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    Mick,

    Since when have nationalists endorsed wide scale roadblocking as a vehicle for forcing political change ? I haven’t seen it. I’ve seen nationalists block roads at Orange parades, and I’ve seen the police swiftly remove them.

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  86. Comrade Stalin (profile) says:

    AU,

    Do you think that thing on Nolan last week was a debate of any kind, even a raucous one ?

    Oh, I forgot. Sloop John B is a Beach Boys song, “Operation Shutdown” is a peaceful protest, and flying the union flag on designated days is a republican song.

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  87. carl marks (profile) says:

    Mick,
    CS has a point,
    The type of civil disturbance we see at the moment is a unionist tactic,
    All the stranger since it comes from a group who love to point to “the right to march on the queens Highway” but have no problem denying others the same right.
    The “queens Highway” only seems to be those roads that pass or go through nationalist areas all other roads including the city centre (listen to the gurning that takes place on St pats about the parade) seem according to unionists to be “our roads” to be closed on a whim.

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