Policing drama

It seems that all parties have accepted the legitimacy of the policing board, all but for Sinn Fein. Even implacable opponents like the GAA have lifted their ban on Northern security forces from playing the game, and it is to be symbolically swept away in style next month in a competitive match between the Garda Siochana and the PSNI.

So what is holding Sinn Fein back? Reader Cathal points to an article by John O’Keeffe who boiled the issue down to three major points of principle. More straightforwardly, he goes on to quote from another article written by Tom McGurk in the Sunday Business Post on 26th August last year:

“According to Sinn Fein, the areas of contention are: the limitations on the initiation of inquiries, powers of and appointments to the policing boards, powers of the Ombudsman, protection being offered to human rights offenders and informers, and changes to the Special Branch.

“It amounts to the difference between Sinn Fein being able to turn to its community and say ‘join this police force because it’s under local Northern Irish democratic control’ or ‘don’t join it, because at the end of the day its authority is vested in the secretary of state and the NI Office'”.

“It’s a subtle but important difference. On one hand is the spectre of yet another British police force raised in Ireland to police the Irish, on the other a local force under local control serving the local community.”