Cops better placed to deal with community disputes

The widow of west Belfast man Gerard Devlin has called for justice to be done through the courts and not through community action. Anthony McIntyre in The Blanket argues that the informal mechanisms currently serving the community in place of official recognition of the police are simply not sufficient to cope.

The killing of Gerard Devlin and its aftermath will cause people to reflect on the manner in which republican communities are policed. There is no way that community safety networks or Community Restorative Justice schemes can make incidents like the murder of Gerard Devlin preventable. In fact their insertion into an already volatile and unstable mix where such intervention may take on the appearance of neighbour policing neighbour may lead to recalcitrance rather than reconciliation being the outcome.

Yet the police, which people elsewhere might be expected to turn to, seem to have failed lamentably in their handling of the long festering Ballymurphy dispute. Relatives of Gerard Devlin as well as the Notorantonios both claim that the police failed to respond to serious incidents when requested to do so.

Nevertheless the cops, like them or not, are better placed, trained, equipped and resourced to deal with serious incidents than local community activists. It is the same in every modern society. Republican communities do not have to politically endorse the police in order to recognise the immediate need for civil policing. Sinn Fein, if it so chooses, can maintain its political critique of policing while simultaneously encouraging the communities it represents to make full use of the PSNI. For communities long at odds with the police, while it may not be the preferred choice, it is a necessary choice. The alternative is to abandon communities to those who promote the rule of the knife over the rule of law. As Martin Luther King once said, the law can’t make another man love him, but it can stop another man lynching him. It is far too late for Gerard Devlin. It may, however, save the next person.

  • Suzanne(sudie)Elsoffer

    No CRJ is better to deal with this kind of situation. We have them all over the US!! They work. The police are not acceptable in nationalist communities, they must not try to police them. They will only inflame the situation in west BELFAST. I have friends in North Belfast and they tell me they do not want this reconstructed RUC.

    These groups do a fine job as can be seen how they worked tirelessly in this situation.

    This situation has been allowed to fester by the PSNI they want people at each others throats. Like the blacks and the whites in the US in the1960s!!

    These groups are there to help the situation. And they are helping, there is no doubt about it. They fill the gaps in the policing of the communites that do not want them..

    Implement Patton. Make the police acceptable to nationalists.

  • martin ingram

    Sudie Luv,

    The IMC have already indicated very clearly that Republicans have been using these bodies to inflict their will on the communities. The communities have suffered so much by the vilence and intimidation put upon them by the IRA. It cannot nor will it be allowed to continue in any guise.

    Sinn Fein needs to join the policing debate formally and then we can all be assured Game set and Match.

    As for anything in America, sorry Luv but Ireland and the UK pay little or NO attention to you. save you Dollars for the “Ra” so they can build a few more holiday homes.


  • JD

    MI, 5

    The IMC is serviced by spooks, ex-spooks, string pullers for loyalist paramilitaries, like youself. So it talks about as much sh**e as you do

  • Hensons

    “The communities have suffered so much by the vilence and intimidation put upon them by the IRA”.

    And they these communities go out and vote SF.

    C’mon on – you will have to try better.

    I agree proper policing is needed but lets not pretend the IRA is seen as a big bad evil terrorist group in WB.

  • martin ingram


    I understand your point.

    Agreed but Sinn Fein has promised so much and it is now failing to deliver. In its own back yard the leadership of both organisations is being questioned for perhaps the first time.

    The public of WB are not daft? they see the corruption that has been rife and now many of those who ruled them some times with Iron bars are now exposed as British Agents.

    Quote”And they these communities go out and vote SF”Unquote

    Like Tommy Doc used to say “Your only as good as your last game”, lets see what happens in the next elections? or will Gerry be off by then because you can bet your last Dollar he will stay around when the heat gets turned up.


  • Mickhall

    I agree with JD and Sudie, the IMC is just another UK government Quango, everyone of its members is a retired State employee who despite receiving a Hefty final salary State pension also draws £625 per day plus expenses to serve on the IMC. Nice work if you can get it, £10.500 for one months work [20 days]

    It matters not one jot whether their reports are accurate or not, the fact they refuse to name their sources and come as individuals from within the UK, ROI, USA state machines means they have no credibility with Irish Republicans and I might add all independent minded people of good conscience. I would ask unionists if the shoe was on the other foot would you accept such a commission as being impartial and independent, I doubt it being the astute people some of you undoubtedly are.

    On the acceptance of the PSNI, ‘martin ingram’ has a point, there is a real need for this to be debated within nationalist communities and not behind closed doors. For if SF recognize the Police committees, as most expect them to do some time in the future. It will not have come about due to community pressure but via a decision of men in smoke filled rooms. A recipe on this issue for disaster.

    Regards to all.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    There is universal acceptance within the nationalist community that a policing service as opposed to the current police FORCE is long overdue.

    However, I believe it is premature to begin debating this issue. The British has stated that they are to bring forward some legislation on police accountability and the delegation of policing and justice powers. In that respect, thanks to their perfidity over OTR legisaltion, no republican worth their salt will give any consideration to policing until the proposed legisaltion is heavily and very publicly scrutinised.

    What is clear is that when a gang decides to murder their neighbours organisations like CRJ have no part to play. At the start of such disputes CRJ may have a part to play in trying to bring conflicting families together, although once it becomes clear that some people are abusing the process then CRJ should walk away.

    Although this case was heavily featured on Newsnight it always was a background to a piece in a anti SF diatribe from Suzanne Breen in the Tribune a few months ago featuring the Notorantonios. Well done Suzanne, spot on again, NOT.

  • UMR

    I believe it is premature to begin debating this issue.

    So, Pat, how many people have to be murdered by their neighbours before it is no longer premature to start the debate on policing nationalist communities?

    then CRJ should walk away.

    What happens when CRJ walks away, who takes over then?

  • fair_deal

    “There is universal acceptance within the nationalist community that a policing service as opposed to the current police FORCE is long overdue.”

    The SDLP are of the view that service has arrived. A stance backed by 42% of nationalist voters at the last election.

  • elfinto

    Maybe, when we can be sure that the killers in the ranks of the PSNI have been weeded out, a proper debate on policing will begin. Until then, forget about it.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘So, Pat, how many people have to be murdered by their neighbours before it is no longer premature to start the debate on policing nationalist communities?’

    According to the SDLP and nearly all media outlets there already is support for the PSNI in nationalist areas. Despite knowing about this long running feud they did exactly nothing. If people want to involve themselves in sch violence, they will.

    ‘What happens when CRJ walks away, who takes over then?’

    If despite the best efforts of CRJ these people are committed to violence CRJ have to walk away for their own safety, if nothing else. Individual responsibility takes precedence here.

  • GetReal

    Why are we debating policing of nationalist areas? Gerard Devlin reported the threat to his life countless times to the PSNI, including the fact there was a £10,000 bounty on his head and nothing was done. Even when the PSNI were told excatly who commited the murder and who was involved by eyewitnesses they hesitated to arrest anyone. There is no point in debating the policing of nationalist areas when the police themselves arent willing to do it.