Policing: 82 years of disaffection to end?

Sharon O’Neil reports (subs needed) an interesting perspective on yesterday’s meeting between Sinn Fein and the Cheif Constable of the PSNI from historian Eammon Phoenix:

“Not since 1922 has a Sinn Fein leader discussed policing with an official representative of the Northern Ireland state.

“Craig met Collins and a Catholic recruiting committee was set up in Belfast, chaired by Bishop MacRory of Down and Connor to, if you like, select suitable Catholics for the police force. At that time this divided republican opinion in the north and the scheme was eventually blocked by the old unionist minister of home affairs who was in charge of policing, Sir Dawson Bates.

“He set out to disrupt the new scheme on the grounds that it would endanger the Protestant control of the police. Therefore the scheme collapsed in 1922. From 1922 until today there has been no republican engagement with the police authorities on the crucial issues of policing.

“It has taken 82 years to get to a point where a northern republican leader is meeting the head of the PSNI, the reformed police force, to discuss the broad issue of policing/demilitarisation”.

And he’s sanguine over the chances of a deal being struck:

“You have Sinn Fein recognising the reality that qualified Catholics are prepared to join the new force since Patten.

“You also have the Sinn Fein recognition of the requirement of the two governments that to be in government Sinn Fein must accept the existing police force – that is the bottom line of Blair and Ahern.

“Sinn Fein must be seen to support the law of the land. It is the acceptability of the realpolitik by the new pragmatic leaders of the republican movement”.

  • Davros

    Eamon Phoenix has changed his tune!

    Irish News 30 Nov : At that time this divided republican opinion in the north and the scheme was eventually blocked by the old unionist minister of home affairs who was in charge of policing, Sir Dawson Bates.

    Irish News 10 Nov : Dan Dempsey was appointed by Michael Collins to the ‘Belfast Catholic Recruiting Committee’, set up under the Craig-Collins Pact of March 1922 to attract Belfast Catholics into the B Specials. The pact soon collapsed in face of escalating violence, north and south.

  • Mick Fealty

    Is it possible that both accounts were true, at the same time?

  • Davros

    As in each article the collapse of the accord is ‘blamed’ on only one reason, then both accounts are seriously flawed. Today’s article makes it look as if a Unionist Bogeyman ( which by all accounts he was )was entirely responsible.

  • Davros

    What I found interesting when I looked at the pact earlier in the month is that it was agreed that there would be non-jury Courts, and that the British Army would act in support of the police where necessary.

    (4) A Court to be constituted for the trial without jury of persons charged with serious crime, the Court to consist of the Lord Chief Justice and one of the Lord Justices of Appeal of Northern Ireland. Any person committed for trial for a serious crime to be tried by that court:
    a. If he so requests, or
    b. If the Attorney-General for Northern Ireland so directs.
    Serious crime should be taken to mean any offence punishable with death, penal servitude, or imprisonment for a term exceeding six months. The Government of Northern Ireland will take steps for passing the legislation necessary to give effect to this Article.

    and

    5. Any search for arms to be carried out by police forces composed half of Catholics and half of Protestants, the military rendering any necessary assistance.

  • aquifer

    5. Any search for arms to be carried out by police forces composed half of Catholics and half of Protestants, the military rendering any necessary assistance.

    Weren’t we ever so full of good intentions, but ever so crap at following through. cf 74 executive etc.

    The GFA effectively trumps the sectarian veto of any one party so lets be prepared to leave someone ( I don’t care who) behind and move on. This ‘inclusive’ sectarian settlement left many of us behind long ago. Whose votes never count when sectarian grandstanding and murder hollow out the middle ground. Whats the alternative, a Bosnified economy of cigarette smuggling, sexual exploitation, extortion, feral children, drugs and macho murder. Come to think of it, that sounds like some streets near you. All those years of excusing our own anti-social political behaviour have wrought their own magic.