Republican movement and policing

Mick Hall normally writes for The Blanket, but given their editor is on a short sabbatical at the moment, Slugger has gladly stepped into the breach for the moment to publish this very astute analysis of the Republican Movement’s position viz a viz the knotty ongoing conundrum of whether or not accept policing in Northern Ireland.

By Mick Hall

Despite taking much criticism to the contrary from the media of late, apart for the odd psycho, Neanderthal man and those who fawn to power no matter who exercises it, few members of SF have any time for the murderers of Robert McCartney, indeed most were as appalled as the rest of us by his murder, if not more so as they were forced to face
the ugly truth that members of their own movement were party to this crime, which in reality had more in common with the loyalist paramilitary goon squad who became infamous as the ‘Shankill Butchers’.

However what has become very clear from the response of
many rank and file SF members to this issue, is the leadership of SF has made little real headway in getting their members to accept the writ of the PSNI and all that flows from it. Which is after all at the heart of the McCartney families campaign, hence the defensive stance taken by many Shinners over the McCartney families campaign for justice for their murdered loved one..

To judge from the public statements issued by Sinn Fein leaders such as Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness in support of the McCartney families campaign, it is clear they themselves have passed through this most problematic of rubicon’s for Irish Republican’s. Having accepted if politics is to become primary within the Republican Movement, the rule of law throughout the island of Ireland must prevail. Thus for this to become a reality, at some time the core Republican constituency within the north will have to, however reluctantly accept the PSNI, as whilst the island is still politically divided it is the only body with the ability to enforce the law, however imperfectly across the north’s sectarian divides.

The fact that the core Republican constituency, have not yet reached the stage when they will accept the PSNI, placed them in an impossible dilemma when they were confronted with the campaign by the McCartney family, the main demand of which was that those who participated in the murder of their brother Robert, whether it be the actual act of murder or the cleaning of the crime scenes after the event, should be arrested by the PSNI, charged and brought before the courts of Northern Ireland.

The majority of Republicans had no problem with punishing those who had played a role in Mr McCartneys death. Indeed most who I have spoken to looked forward to those responsible getting their just deserts, although they were more sympathetic to those who helped clean the crime scene, believing they were only following orders, something which when I first heard it made me shudder.

However, what many of them were unable to do was make the leap from agreeing the killers etc should be punished, to accepting that the PSNI and the Northern Irish Judicial system should be the means to do this. Which is hardly surprising given the appalling record of the forerunner of the PSNI, the RUC, whose Special Branch all but institutionally colluded with loyalist paramilitaries throughout the period of the ‘troubles’ and has never been brought to account for doing so, to say nothing of the Diplock Courts etc, which brought the legal system of the north into disrepute in the eyes of many.

Perhaps it would do no harm for Republicans to consider one of the main reasons why radicals who live in western European countries and the USA give their State legitimacy, despite the fact they oppose much of what it does in their name, is because they recognize without the rule of law, the rule of the jungle so easily can prevail; and if this were to happen any hope of reforming the State would become an impossibility. Revolution would then become the only viable option to bring about social and economic change.

Of course a small minority would welcome this believing the old order has to be destroyed in blood. If it is a bloody dictatorship one is living under or brutal foreign occupation where there are absolutely no peaceful options open to bring about change, so be it. But if it is a liberal bourgeois democracy, which at long last is willing to accept a move to equality; all be it reluctantly, with all this could entail, then one would have to be a very rash individual to reject the chance of reform; psychopathic or someone who either totally lacks imagination or has no direct experience of the extreme consequences of violent revolutionary change.

Basically with the GFA, the Adams leadership have asked Republicans to take the reformist road. However as I have alluded to above, the response in the Republican heartlands to the McCartney’s families campaign highlight’s the fact Mr Adams and his leadership colleagues have hardly touched on what this will envisage.

The RM leadership’s tactic of dragging their membership, however reluctantly, along with them with the promise if the membership trust them they will lead them out into the bright sunny uplands of the Irish Socialist Republic, is surly reaching the end of the road. For if there is one thing the McCartney affair has demonstrated, it is the RM rank and file need to be actively on message and not at times of crises left to stagger around, in the hope they will muddle through until the leadership can regain control of events.

What the McCartney affair has shown us is many Republicans are not yet ready to accept the PSNI, however this does not mean they will never do so, indeed being the intelligent people most of them are, the contradictions the McCartney affair has confronted them with will force this issue to the fore.

What is clear the issue of policing must now be a priority for the SF leadership and the two governments, how they will manage to square this very spiky circle they alone will have to decide. If they fail to do so, and accepting the PSNI will be a very bitter pill for Republicans to swallow, one cannot see much of a future for the GFA. Having said this, the bitterness of the aforementioned pill will have much the same foul taste as that which the DUP is being asked to swallow by accepting SF as equals into government. Perhaps there is a quid pro quo here?

Note: the comment zone is switch on at the moment and will remain so as long as we can keep the discussion away from the specifics of the McCartney case.

  • Keith M

    The problem that SF/IRA have is not with the policing boards or even the RUC/PSNI, it is with the concept of policing in general. They have never co-operated with the Gardai in this country, and I believe they still have a position where they don’t see the Gardai as the legitimate police service of the republic (maybe one of the republican contributcan give us their latest stance). They considered the cold blooded murder of Jerry McCabe as a legitimate act and coming under the terms of the Belfast Agreement.

  • Doreen

    Sinn Fein/IRA also has a problem with knowing the difference between right and wrong: remember Mitchel McLaughlin saying that the murder of Jean McConville was not a crime!

  • crow

    SF/IRA have gotten away with so much over the years they do not seem to understand right and wrong, only what they percieve to be right and wrong.

  • fair_deal

    Interesting piece. Policing was the one issue I felt Republicans had managed to get themselves into a cul-de-sac on, resulting in the onus switching on to them to move.

    “The RM leadership’s tactic of dragging their membership, however reluctantly, along with them with the promise if the membership trust them they will lead them out into the bright sunny uplands of the Irish Socialist Republic, is surly reaching the end of the road”

    The recent election results would provide some evidence for this.

  • Jo

    This is a very interesting and benchmarkable analysis of the RM and policing. When will the knot be cut?

  • Setanta

    Members of the P.I.R.A. are instructed not to harm the Gardai. When arrested not to shoot etc. They are also instructed not to say anything. This makes sense as if an ASU were to go around shooting at Gardai then the P.I.R.A. would loose all support in the 26 counties. Over the years few Gardai have been killed. When a member of the force has been killed a serious crack down on that particular ASU follows.
    When Veronica Guerin (if my spelling is correct) was killed public opinion was so great that every hood in the country had to take cover. I know for a fact that the Drug supply on the street corners totaly dried up. The Gardai sat on all the main players until they got the people. The same applied for Gerry McCabe (R.I.P) and Ben O’Sullivan. The Gardai knew it was a particular Munster ASU. The public outcry was huge. No great ploice work went into catching the ASU. The Gardai simply sat on the people connected with it and it was only a matter of time before the guys were told give it up for the sake of peace and quiet for the general republican movement. On saying this apparently some people involved in this shooting fled the country and have not been back or will ever be back.
    The relationship between the Gardai and the P.I.R.A. is a strange one. A guy I know used to get pulled in quite a bit at the height of the war. He used to say there were unwritten rules between the relationship between him and the Gardai. One never abused them and respect flowed both ways. If you were caught off side fair enough, say nothing incriminating and wait for the court to get on with the business at hand. While one is waiting carry on regardless. The bottom line really was, it was fine if what you are doing only has consequences in the occupied six. If it effects or messes with the twenty six then you will get lifted.
    Before my Unionist friends go mad, ye had a far better relationship with the RUC and the Army. I won’t even go into that.

  • George

    Members of the P.I.R.A. are instructed not to harm the Gardai. When arrested not to shoot etc. They are also instructed not to say anything. This makes sense as if an ASU were to go around shooting at Gardai then the P.I.R.A. would loose all support in the 26 counties. Over the years few Gardai have been killed. When a member of the force has been killed a serious crack down on that particular ASU follows.
    When Veronica Guerin (if my spelling is correct) was killed public opinion was so great that every hood in the country had to take cover. I know for a fact that the Drug supply on the street corners totaly dried up. The Gardai sat on all the main players until they got the people. The same applied for Gerry McCabe (R.I.P) and Ben O’Sullivan. The Gardai knew it was a particular Munster ASU. The public outcry was huge. No great ploice work went into catching the ASU. The Gardai simply sat on the people connected with it and it was only a matter of time before the guys were told give it up for the sake of peace and quiet for the general republican movement. On saying this apparently some people involved in this shooting fled the country and have not been back or will ever be back.
    The relationship between the Gardai and the P.I.R.A. is a strange one. A guy I know used to get pulled in quite a bit at the height of the war. He used to say there were unwritten rules between the relationship between him and the Gardai. One never abused them and respect flowed both ways. If you were caught off side fair enough, say nothing incriminating and wait for the court to get on with the business at hand. While one is waiting carry on regardless. The bottom line really was, it was fine if what you are doing only has consequences in the occupied six. If it effects or messes with the twenty six then you will get lifted.
    Before my Unionist friends go mad, ye had a far better relationship with the RUC and the Army. I won’t even go into that.

  • Setanta is George

    My secret is out.

  • filledwithdread

    I have heard a very strong rumour this week that there is a new group active out there called something like saoirse na eireann, I heard they are a republican setup who apparently claimed responsibility for the recent marathon bomb attack on the chief constable. They also have claimed responsibility at the start of May for the Lisburn Civic Center building bomb in April and and numerous hoaxes and firebombs before xmas at B&Q for example. The version I heard came from someone working at the irish news and a friend heard something similar at cool fm. Yet its not been mentioned publically anywhere else. Any journos on here shed any light? Bearing in mind the Marathon bomb was a viable remote control device isnt it in our interest as members of the public to know if there is an emerging new threat from a republican terror group capable of targeting the chief constable with a remote control bomb capacity? Is this a cover name for mainstream republicans? What does this say for the present political situation regardless of the imminent IRA statement? I dread to think !!!

  • Mrs Tilton

    Over the years few Gardai have been killed.

    That’s true in absolute terms, Setanta (em, George). But do you know how many of the 15 Gardaí killed in the line of duty since 1970 have been killed by republicans? If you don’t, let me tell you: nine of them, or 60%. The IRA killed six of these nine men, with INLA responsible for another two and Saor Éire for one. That’s according to the Sutton index on the CAIN website. It’s possible that republicans also killed some of the other six murdered Gardaí in this period; the Garda historical society uses somewhat coy formulations like “killed by armed gang” or “by wanted man” for the nine listed by Sutton, and also for some others, and it is not clear how many of the killers in these other cases had republican connections.

    It might be fair, perhaps, to call the relationship between PIRA and the Garda Síochána “strange”; but it has hardly been the cosy thing you imply.

  • queens_unionist

    “Before my Unionist friends go mad, ye had a far better relationship with the RUC and the Army. I won’t even go into that.”

    But its quite clear setanta that the RUC and the army co-operated shared intelligence…these are both legal organisations. No-one will dispute that the two organisations worked in one accord at times…
    whereas the IRA (P, C, R whatever) are not the Irish Army, and are an illegal organisation.
    I cant see how you can draw any comparision at all between these!

  • JD

    Republicans are pro-policing and always have been. As shocking as this statement first sounds it is absolutely true. What republicans are opposed to is political, partisian, corrupt and incompetent policing as charactorised by the RUC, some elements of the Gardai and, to most republicans still, the PSNI.

    Republicans, probably more than most, want an accountable, representative, effective and efficient policing service because it is to republicans’ doors that many victims of anti-social behaviour and crime arrive looking for answers. Republicans have accepted many years ago that physical punishment of criminals is not only wrong and brutal but it is ineffective and does not stop the problem that it was designed to redress, however much it brought some sense of shortlived justice to the victims of that crime.

    Republicans want to engage seriously on how our communities are policed. It is about time our political opponents realised this.

  • Keith M

    JD “What republicans are opposed to is political, partisian, corrupt and incompetent policing as charactorised by the RUC, some elements of the Gardai and, to most republicans still, the PSNI.”

    Perhaps you could tell us which element of policing Jerry McCabe was lacking that merrited him being murdered in cold blood an act (seeing as republicans are skitish when it comes to the use of the word “crime”) which SF/IRA saw as coming under the terms of the Belfast Agreement?

    As for “anti social behaviour”, what is SF/IRA’s stance on ASBOs. Are they in favour of their introduction in this country or do they still perfer their own method (a hurling stick with nails through the legs and feet) of dealing with these things?

  • Gonzo

    What republicans are opposed to is political, partisian, corrupt and incompetent policing

    You’d almost wonder why they are, if they can list all of the above as parts of republican ‘policing’.

  • Liam

    What is clear the issue of policing must now be a priority for the SF leadership and the two governments, how they will manage to square this very spiky circle they alone will have to decide.

    To answer Mickhall’s question: The issue of Policing has always been a priority for Sinn Féin – this is not a new issue by any stretch of the imagination – its probably the oldest one!

    It is up to the british government to implement the Patten Report. It is up to that government to devolve policing and justice powers to a functioning assembly. It is up to that government to forget plans to hand powers to MI5. It is up to that government to insist on human rights training for all serving police.

    When the british government meets its commitments and the necessary legislation is published, then and only then can Sinn Féin even contemplate holding a special Ard Fheis to consider joining Policing Boards.

    Thats how to square the circle!

  • heck

    I think unionists are deliberately refusing to appreciate nationalist concerns over the police in Northern Ireland. Could anyone imagine the political leadership in the United States, in the 1960’s, telling the black citizens of Nesohba County Mississippi (made famous by the movie Mississippi Burning) that they must support the police. Wouldn’t Keith M. comment “The problem that SF/IRA (read blacks) have is not with the policing boards or even the RUC/PSNI (read sheriff/ state troopers) it is with the concept of policing in general” be seen, at best, as fatuously naïve, and at worst simply racist. If the Philadelphia (Miss not Pa) newspaper had written similar editorials to the Belfast Telegraph demanding that the minority support the police it would not be seen as a credible analysis of the problem.

    It took a generation for African Americans in the southeastern US to accept the police (and they have not fully yet) and I expect that it will take a similar amount of time in Northern Ireland.

  • Minesapint

    The black population of Neshoba, Philadelphia et al did not, by and large organise themselves into an illegal ‘army’, arm themselves and ‘fight’ their war by killing thousands of people, both white and with indiscriminate explosive devices put together using funds obtained by illegal. Here I believe it’s a minority of a minority grouping who won’t support law and order, no matter who’s enforcing it.

    It appears the IRA regard themselves as above the law – the law North or South of the Irish border, or anywhere else in Europe. Their supporters, tacit and otherwise, can only grimace in embarassment when they obviously get it wrong, and then fail to deal with the consequences of the ‘mistake’ effectively.

    There’s only one way to convince most that they’ve changed. It’s time for effective leadership.

  • heck

    Minesapint

    I hate to be accused of whataboutery but are you suggesting the RUC did not murder and torture people?

    The point was that the police and courts in the american south had to earn, and still have to earn, the support of the minority community.

    I don’t think white (read unionist) bloggers demanding that they support the police and court system had anything to do with it.

    Perhaps if you supported the FULL implementation of the Patton report then a start could be made in earning minority support for the police in northern ireland.

    I also think it will take a generation to get to the level of black/police relations in US but a start has to be made and demands for unconditional psni(RUC) support is not it.

  • aquifer

    The RUC were obviously not very good at murdering and torturing people.

    It is probably one thing to ‘know’ that there must be one law and one police force. It’s quite another thing to accept that you might again encounter individuals in a position of power who abused you, or perhaps just effectively pursued and prosecuted you when they were members of the RUC.

    It might be a consolation that many more RUC members took their patten package than were expected to, so the chances of meeting one are down.

    Maybe they and their families felt they had had enough and done enough.

    Some man murders your child.

    Garda, PSNI, or the guys in the ASU to catch him?

  • barney

    Keith M

    “(a hurling stick with nails through the legs and feet)”

    Hurling sticks have neither legs nor feet. A visit to Croke Park some Sunday should fill a gap in your education.

  • Alan McDonald

    I also think that policing is a critical issue. So far, most of the discussion in this thread has dealt with policing outside Northern Ireland. In keeping with that, I’ll add my American perspective.

    Having lived through the US Civil Rights movement and beyond, I can tell you that Black activists who take up arms are not dealt with kindly. For example, in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, not Mississippi), the Ancient Order of Hibernians has the following to say on the subject of cop killers:

    Justice For P/O Daniel Faulkner

    Please visit the justice for Daniel Faulkner website. A tribute to a Philadelphia Police Officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty while conducting a routine car stop in the city by Mumia-Abu-Jamal on December 9 ,1981. Aoh division 99 was named in his honor.

    You may be aware that the folks on Mumia’s side tell a different story.

  • headmelter

    “But its quite clear setanta that the RUC and the army co-operated shared intelligence…these are both legal organisations”

    In whose eyes?

    And even if deemed legal they did not always remain within the law, demonstrating gross unprofessionalism regarding collusion with loyalist paramilitaries and general intimidation within nationalist areas.
    Hence the gross mistrust displayed by the nationalist people.

  • JD

    “Perhaps you could tell us which element of policing Jerry McCabe was lacking..”

    Keith M

    Republicans have always accepted that the killing of Garda McCabe was wrong and should not have happened. But this issue is surely for another thread. We dealing with the issue of republicans and policing. I merely state again if people genuinely want to know why republicans still have difficulties with policing then they must listen to republicans. I was very clear in my previous post that informal policing in republican areas was not only ineffective and brutal, it has no role in our future.

    However the fundamental question remains what do you do about addressing crime in our communities. Support for the police does not erradicate crime or else areas like South Belfast would be crime free. Indeed many unionist areas where support for the PSNI is very high the crime rates are higher than in areas were support for the PSNI is non-existent.

    Republicans view of ASBOs are that they are a new labour gimic. Evidence from Britain shows that they are largely ineffective other than giving good headlines. They are also open to abuse by single party dominated councils a few east of the Bann spring to mind, and finally the fact that every childrens rights organisation in the North is vehemently opposed to them demonstrates that they have not been thought through.

  • JD

    You’d almost wonder why they are, if they can list all of the above as parts of republican ‘policing’.

    Gonzo

    I am not quite sure what the point is you are trying to make. However republicans or indeed the IRA never claimed to be a policing service. Through public pressure the IRA did carry out a policing function which, while popular, was ineffective, haphazard, and in some cases very brutal. All of us are trying to move away from those days towards proper accountable, effective policing that we can all support and be part of. But there is work to do and republicans are prepared to shoulder their responsibilities in helping to deliver this. Are the British Government and the unionist parties? or do they still view a police forces’ function as one of intelligence and control.

  • Lawboy

    I find the policing in Northern Ireland to be a very difficult pill to swallow. On the one hand the protection of a community through troubled times has called for measures outwith the normal scope of your local plod and on the other hand this has infringed the Human Rights of those closest to the ground level traditionally Republicans and Loyalist communities.

    I saw some graffiti in Belfast last week that said RUC/PSNI whats the difference? I found this quite distressing. For starters the work and death of members of the RUC has not been honoured in any way and the sacrifices that members of this community have endured have been spat upon with a historical brush so often misyielded. Institutions and historical references are constantly abused in intellectual debates within Northern Ireland and I cannot help but wonder whether Sinn Fein want to wind up the DUP over policing so that the police service goes through a convenient period of flux to conincide with the illegal profit scams that there non-political wing enjoys. Has Gerry Adams ever told the truth or does he need a trigger to make his intentions clear?

    People make up Northern Ireland. They are the ones still alive and living and working in our little province. The History and institutions are secondary to this and past wrongs may never be corrected by either side therefore futile arguments deplete our enthusiasm for our future development and if youtake a look around the rest of the world our efforts are nothing short of embarassing.

  • aquifer

    ‘Revolution would then become the only viable option to bring about social and economic change.’

    Are you serious? In this divided place? Its not about divvying up the stuff looted from capitalist emporia. SFPIRA have helped insist its about national and ethnic identity. Think bosnia in your backyard.

    Revolution, or insurrection, reaction, repression, displacement of populations, mass murder, death squads rampant, funerals as social life?

    Just for a change? Its all too familiar. What chance a 32 county socialist United Ireland would get a look in? More chance the US marines arrive first.

    The Workers Party called it right years ago, realising that violence was not going to unite the working class and was against its interests.

    You can get a license for a very big firework display if you like that kind of thing. I’d come.

  • Minesapint

    There’s none so blind as those who will not see.

    Heck, Want to answer my post of June 15 7.40pm.

  • Alan McDonald

    Patten, the Pictures and the Poison Pill

    After the GFA and before Patten, I was corresponding with an Irish Republican about the issue of policing. After a long and fruitful discussion, he finally said that no amount of police reform would be acceptable short of a united Ireland.

    My observation of the negotiations that produced the Patten report was that every possible police reform was included in the final 175 recommendations. I observed to a local group here in the United States that each and every recommendation would not be accepted in any US municipality, so I wasn’t surprised that some were not enacted in Northern Ireland.

    When one company is attempting the hostile takeover of another, the target company’s mangement will use the “poison pill” defense. They make a change in the way their company operates in order to make the acquisition less attractive.

    I believe that the Republican Movement injected posion pills into Patten knowiing that they would not be enacted, and they could then use this excuse not to join up. They also cleverly left the “photographic proof of decommissioning” on the table in last December’s negotiations so that they could balk at the last minute.

  • JD

    They also cleverly left the “photographic proof of decommissioning” on the table in last December’s negotiations so that they could balk at the last minute.

    Alan

    Your conclusions make no sense. If the Republican Movement is deliberately creating obstacles for itself, why would they bother with initiatives at all. At crucial times in this peace process republicans have been prepared to take bold steps in the interests of peace and achieving a settlement. Unionists have dismissed these initiatives, foollessly in my view, as it would have been much easier for republicans to do nothing. But where would we be then.

    Likewise with policing, as I said earlier republicans are pro-policing however the police service needs to be one that everyone can give allegience to.

    The police service is an instrument of the state. Republicans have no alliegence to the state of NI, therefore how can they buy into a policing arangement until the wider political problems are resolved. I feel that the answer is to remove the political aspects of policing all together. In addition to the transfer of powers back to Ireland from London, there needs to all Ireland structures to policing such as on the policing boards and ombudsmans Office as well as in the service. This would help remove the sense of the PSNI being a instrument of British state power in Ireland whoe role, along with policing, is to protect the state.

  • Fanny

    You’ve just proved Alan’s point.
    As signataries of the GFA, SF is required to ‘recognise the state’ by its acceptance of the consent principle – unless SF is actually an anti-agreement party. Is it?

  • JD

    I can see no where in the Agreement that states that republicans must recognise the state. The Agreement accepted the legitmacy of both aspirations, those who want to maintain the union and those who want the country re-united. The Agreement commits its signatories to the principle that the consent of those within the six counties must be gained for either view to be enacted.

  • Mike

    The Agreement states:

    “The participants endorse the commitment made by the British and Irish Governments that, in a new British-Irish Agreement replacing the Anglo-Irish Agreement, they will:

    (i) recognise the legitimacy of whatever choice is freely exercised by a majority of the people of Northern Ireland with regard to its status, whether they prefer to continue to support the Union with Great Britain or a sovereign united Ireland”

    “(iii) acknowledge that while a substantial section of the people in Northern Ireland share the legitimate wish of a majority of the people of the island of Ireland for a united Ireland, the present wish of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland, freely exercised and legitimate, is to maintain the Union and, accordingly, that Northern Ireland’s status as part of the United Kingdom reflects and relies upon that wish; and that it would be wrong to make any change in the status of Northern Ireland save with the consent of a majority of its people”

    And in draft clauses for UK legislation:

    “It is hereby declared that Northern Ireland in its entirety remains part of the United Kingdom and shall not cease to be so without the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland voting in a poll held for the purposes of this section in accordance with Schedule 1.”

    Surely then supporting entails recognition of Northern Ireland, and its position within the United Kingdom?

    And indeed surely it entails recognising the legitimacy of the Union based on the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland?

  • Mike

    Should read “Surely then supporting the Agreement entails…”

  • JD

    Draft clauses for UK legislation is not the agreement. The Agreement legitimses both unionist and nationalist viewpoints however the consent of the population on the national question has never been sought since the agreement, there has yet to be a border poll. Maybe it is time to begin this process.

    We are straying quite a distance from the subject of policing.

  • Alan McDonald

    JD,

    The subject of policing in any society includes the subject of recognition of the state which exercises those police powers. While it is logical to reject the police authority if you reject the authority of the state, it does make the RM look as anti-agreement as the DUP.

  • JD

    As we all know the constructive ambiguity of the agreement was one the reasons that there was an agreement at all. Republicans signed up to the agreement because, although accepting the consent principle, the agreement offered the opportunity to secure their objectives by democratic means.

    Irrespective of the intricacies of the agreement republicans/nationalists do not have alliegence to the state of NI, therefore if supporting policing implies alliegance to the state, people should be able to understand why this is one of the difficulties with republicans signing up to policing.

  • Belfastwhite

    Maybe the PSNI would get greater support with the Nationalist population if Mr Orde answered a few questions

    1) What did Mr Kelly do to have his license revoked, arrested and imprisoned?

    2) Exact which of the 1000 leads of enquiry followed after the Northern Bank raid shows evidence of republican involvement?

    3) Where is the evidence which lead to republicans being blamed on the Castlereagh break in? We haven’t forgotten that one!

    4) When is the Jordan family going to get an inquest?

    5) When are the Finucane family going to find out who culluded in his murder?

    ….and they tell us who suffered the tear gas and the torture that we’re in the wrong!

  • Fanny

    Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout Whatabout

  • Occassional Commentator

    JD said: if supporting policing implies alliegance to the state …

    There’s a difference between supporting the police and supporting the courts. The RM seems to be happy to support the courts, but this does not mean an allegiance to the state, perhaps because the courts are (theoretically) independent from the state. The police are much closer to the state than the courts are.

    If the Ombudsman can investigate cases and present a case to the courts, then why not let the Gardai do the same? Or even the IRA? **ducks**

    If the Ombudsman takes on a case, does she take the place of the police only, or police+CPS?

  • Alan McDonald

    JD,
    republicans/nationalists do not have alliegence to the state of NI
    Thank you for confirming what I was told about the RM position on policing. I recognize the integrity of your saying NO to a partitionist police force. While there may be other “difficulties” as you put it, this reason alone is sufficient for the RM to reject the PSNI forever.

    BelfastWhite,
    Maybe the PSNI would get greater support with the Nationalist population
    Maybe not (see above).

  • JD

    Alan, the tone of self-satisfaction in your post suggests you and other unionists would be petrified of republicans getting involved in the present policing arrangements.

    At the risk of repeating myself ad nauseam, republicans are pro-policing and if the proper accountabilty and representative structures are put in place then republicans might surprise some people at their willingness to get involved in making their communities safer places to live.

    This I feel is what scares unionists and securocrats most, this has been their domain for decades as an instrument of the state power. Having republicans involved, or God forbid in charge of policing, would remove that power. Why do you think the unionist parties are queuing up to resign if Sinn Fein ever does take its seats on the Policing Board.

  • JD

    OC,

    I appreciate the point you are trying to make and I agree with you there is supposed to be a difference between the judiciary and the state. However the British Government is also dragging its heels on issues such as removing symbols of the crown from court buildings. But republicans see the court system as one that has global acceptance and that they could lend their support for that, however, personal I feel that much more use could be made of restorative approaches to resolving crime and anti-social behaviour.

    As for your suggestions about the ombudsman, although at present this has been used as an alternative means of doing the right thing, as in the Robert McCartney murder, it is not a long term solution. It would be much better if the proper structures where put in place that would allow all of the community support a truly independant, representative, accountable and effective policing service.

  • Belfastwhite

    Alan

    I have to agree with JD on this one as a tax payer I think I’m entitled to a police service I can trust. Can you tell me what parts of the Patten recommendations are so bad after all a fully accountable police force would threaten no-one.

  • DK

    “unionists would be petrified of republicans getting involved in the present policing arrangements”

    JD

    You are very much mistaken in your statement above. You may well know that. I for one would be delighted if republicans get involved in supporting the police service.

    The problem that most unionists have is actually believing that republicans can cross that particular rubicon. The old trust thing! It is not that surprising given the statements and actions of the RM over the years. It all has an effect. Generally unionists perception is that republicans hate us, they hate anything British, (outside of Celtic), they hate the police and would be happy to see us all swept out to sea, never to be heard of again. Don’t all rush to agree!

    For 30 + years we have witnessed the interaction between the police and the RM. We have followed the coffins of police officers and listened to the RM leadership vilifying the police and assuring their followers that under no circumstances would they support a police service charged with enforcing British laws in Ireland. The message clearly was that the police could be the most benign force on the planet but so long as they enforced British law, then they were the enemy.

    Now accepting that the GFA is a document written to mean all things to all men, there is no escaping the fact that the laws governing this part of Ireland are enacted by the British Parliment. The police are charged with enforcing those laws. That’s what police services do.

    If what you are claiming is true, that the RM are pro policing in NI, then that is a major shift in republican ideology. I find that very hard to believe.

    The PSNI is one of the most accountable forces in the world, if not the most. The vast majority of people wouldn’t have a clue what particular Patten recommendations have not been implemented.

    The issue about Patten is either an excuse for not supporting British law in NI and therefore maintaining instability, as most unionists believe, or under you scenario, it is a smokescreen under which the RM leadership may eventually sell NI policing to their followers.

    I hope you are right in your opinion on republican intentions. I guess if I was a republican who had bought all the BS doled out by the leadership over 30 years, I would be feeling a bit confused now.

  • JD

    DK

    First of all, your ascertion about the unionist view of republicans is inaccurate, (I debate with unionists regularly) and certainly not how republicans feel about their fellow citizens of this island.

    The RUC was a combatant in the conflict and, for republicans can only be seen in that light, they were not a police force they were a side in a war. The PSNI is the initial attempt by the British Government to move towards a policing service. For republicans the British Government, for its own reasons and under pressure from unionists, have maintained some of the flawed structures of the past and have not yet been prepared to relinquish ultimate control of policing and justice to Irish elected representatives.

    On the issue of enforcing British law, under the agreement laws were to be made in Ireland at a local assembly with inter-connecting north-south arrangements by locally elected politicians. Any new acceptable policing service would be enforcing laws outlined here in Ireland under the instruction of a locally elected Policing and Justice Minister.

  • DK

    JD

    I am not surprised that those unionists whom you debate with, have a more balanced view of the nature of republicanism. I will repeat a quote that I have used in Slugger elsewhere; “You can’t hate men if you know them” – John Steinbeck. However, it remains a fact that the unionists grass roots do believe that republicans have a deep hatred for them. There is substantial evidence that would give credence to that ascertain. I just may be in a better position than you to judge that. I don’t just debate with unionists. I was born and bred in that community.

    The role of the RUC is one that deserves more time than I can devote just now. Suffice to say that they were indeed involved in a conflict which induced particular responses outside of normal policing practice. In any conflict it takes at least two to tango. All participants contribute to the environment at the time. Action and reaction.

    Your final point is most interesting. The suggestion appears to be that only legislation enacted at Stormont is valid. Westminister legislation is not applicable to NI. Is that really what you believe or is it another spin to help sell the whole deal to the RM?

  • Intelligence Insider

    “The RUC was a combatant in the conflict and, for republicans can only be seen in that light, they were not a police force they were a side in a war”

    If the RUC had to go, and they have, should the IRA not have gone at the same time, or now that they still haven’t ” gone away “, should they go now?

  • JD

    Dk,
    I accept that, as a unionist, you would have a better insight into the general unionist mindset. It is unfortunate as such hatred must cloud their judgement.

    In respect to the legislation situation. Firstly Republicans aim to re-unify the island of Ireland and in doing so this involves the repatriation of powers that were removed to London by the British including crucially the power over policing, justice and security. These powers are crucial as they are the weapons of the state and have been used as such since the island was partitioned. Secondly, I am certainly no constitutional or legal expert, but as far as I am aware legislation enacted at Westminister applies only to Britain ie England, Scotland and Wales. For that law to be extended to the North of Ireland it requires a further Order in Council. Therefore once a locally representative and accountable elected body is in place it enacts its own laws or choses what if any legislation from British or indeed Irish Parliaments it should adopt. Examples being the adoption, unfortunately, of water tax legislation from Westminister, or a smoking ban or plastic bag tax from Dublin. For republicans this is a process and why we signed up to the Good Friday agreement.

  • JD

    II,(interesting handle or handler)

    My point is that it is clear that the RUC has not gone away, but rather transfered enmass to the PSNI. In particular the Special Branch spooks who ran the dirty war who presided over the collusion policy. For republicans to buy into policing arrangements power over policing must be taken from the securocrats at Whitehall and the accountability mechanisms must be in place to ensure that a policy such as can never be allowed to happen again. As I said earlier this is not just applicable to the PSNI, as has been demonstrated recently in Morris, the Gardai need similar accountablity mechanisms.

  • DK

    JD,

    you missed the point. I didn’t say that Unionists hated republicans. No doubt some do. What I did say is that unionists perceive that republicans hate them. I guess the natural assumption, (from a unionists perspective), is that the judgement of republicans is clouded by their hatred, as per your suggestion.

    Now when dealing with such perceptions, there is a heavy onus on republicans to work to change unionist perceptions. If as you seem to suggest, republicans do not bear any ill will toward unionists and in fact cherish them as fellow Irish, then can I suggest that the message isn’t getting through. No doubt there are difficulties conveying such a message after thirty years of SF/IRA violence primarily directed at them. That’s history now and hopefully will remain so. We should try to move forward and deliver the correct messages. Unfortunately, in this new era, I see little evidence of republican respect for their unionist neighbours. There is hardly a day goes past without the SF/IRA leadership using a collection of the following terms to decribe unionists: bigots, sectarian, intransigent, “coat trailers”, supremists, etc. I don’t think it is that surprising that the perceived message is one of hate.

    Now before you move to the “whatabout” argument, I will save you the trouble. The unionist leaders do the same thing with a different set of adjectives. Many unionists send a message of hatred to republicans. The reason I am dealing with the subject from a unionist perspective is that the issue originated in unionists difficulty believing your assertion that republicans want to support a police service.

    The sad fact is that there is a lot of hatred on both sides. It is up to people who have moved beyond that, to reach out to the other community whilst reaching back to bring their own communities with them. That is true leadership. There is little evidence of it on this island. I think Slugger provides one forum where it can slowly be developed.

    All the above is just setting things straight and getting some clarity on my message. The point that is really interesting continues to be this understanding of yours with regard to the legitimate source of legislation. Like you, I am no constitutional or legal expert. I find this view of yours fascinating. It is so far from my understanding of the situation and I expect every other unionist. It should be explored further as a topic on its own. Other opinions?

  • JD

    DK,

    Apologies for the misunderstanding, I agree totally that we need to move beyond the hatred and reach out to the other community. There is more evidence of it than you may think. Republicans have been engaging in outreach initiatives with protestant church leaders, unionist business representatives and loyalists for quite sometime now, I have been involved in some. However the nature of this engagement requires sensitivity and confidentiality, publicity tends to have a negative influence. Important as this is, it is obviously only scatching the surface and much more initiatives on all sides are needed.

    Anyone who genuinely believes themselves to be a republican cannot hate his/her unionist nieghbours as their very philosophy dictates that they want to share this unifed island with those self same unionist nieghbours.

    PS I agree other views would be welcome.

  • DK

    JD

    I wish you well in your efforts to reach across the divide.

    Can I suggest that we all, unionist/loyalist & nationalist/republican, impress upon our leaders that they should refrain from using provocative and insulting language when referring to those with conflicting political goals.

    Language is an extremely powerful tool and should be used with extreme care.