As Mick noted with an earlier Daily Ireland interview with IMC Chairman John Alderdice, Jarlath Kearney appears to be channelling Jeremy Paxman in this interview with the outgoing Vice Chairman of the Policing Board, Denis Bradley – beginning, for example, with “DI: Is Martin McGuinness’ phone currently bugged by Special Branch?” – Not that it doesn’t make for an interesting read. In this case that’s in part due to an interviewee who is acutely aware of the political implications behind some of the questions.I’m tempted to paste the entire interview, given the Daily Ireland’s website’s abysmal record of keeping links to articles valid – see Mick’s previous post on the Alderdice interview.
But I’ll extract some of the more interesting points –
DI – Daily Ireland
DB – Denis Bradley
DI: Is there a case, which republicans refer to, for labelling police who flow into politics as political detectives?
DB: Culturally I think there was a greater onus on Sinn Féin to actually lift more of the burden by taking their place on the Policing Board and holding Hugh Orde to account and having the type of questions that you’re directing at me, directed at them because why didn’t they lift part of this burden and expect people like me to kind of hold ground which I was only partially capable of ever holding.
DI: Is that not a victim approach that you eschewed earlier on?
DB: No, it’s a reality statement, it’s a reality check on this situation. I don’t feel a victim, I just feel a bit saddened by it. I think it was a wrong tactic. I disagreed with it.
DI: Do you accept Sinn Féin’s argument now that, number one, there are still in some influential positions within the PSNI ‘political detectives’, and number two, that devolution is now fundamental to securing maximum community confidence in the police?
DB: I think that is put in a fashion which is a completely Sinn Féin question, because it bears no reality to reality.
DI: So there aren’t political detectives?
DB: No, I didn’t say that. Let me finish the thing. Everything that happens is political. And when a very prominent Sinn Féin person becomes a police officer, I don’t expect him to change his heart, nor his culture, but what I expect him to do and what I would demand if I was still on the Policing Board is that he police with neutrality and with the best interests of all the people at heart. That’s what I mean by that the politics now flow into policing because those questions are asked because we don’t have an assembly, we don’t have an agreed executive.
DI: Yes but in fairness, Denis, republicans currently analyse a set of individuals within the PSNI as political detectives because they, in fact, conspired to bring down the assembly that you’re actually talking about.
DB: Well, you use the word conspire, I don’t think they conspired at all.
DI: But that’s why republicans talk about political detectives.
DB: No, they didn’t conspire. I think they made a mess of it. That’s been acknowledged by the chief constable and I certainly thought they made a mess of it and said so at the time. That’s why I think that analysis is not good enough. You see as republicans – and I talk about myself as a republican – we need to get past this. But if you begin to actually say he did that or she did that because he comes from the unionist tradition therefore it has to be a political position and therefore he has to be a political detective, we will never in true republican definitions move past where we’re at. Sinn Féin have had the experience of knowing more about change than probably any other entity within the North over the last 10 years. They have handled it extremely well except mainly on this one issue which I think they got wrong, because they politicised policing. If anyone politicised policing they politicised it by actually saying that we’ll only do it when it’s perfect according to our view. They politicised policing by saying, that’s one we will not touch with a barge pole.
DI: Patten came about because policing was political…
DB: No, hold on…
DI: That’s why Patten came about.
DB: Everything is political if you want to use that definition.
DI: Policing is fundamental to the maintenance of the status quo. That’s why it so serious for republicans.
DB: It is so serious for republicans and it’s the one that they didn’t engage with. To be fair to them, they said we will do that through legislation. If they don’t find a way of the policing to do that, then the only thing we’re left with is what is now being described in vague terms as joint management. And the rest of Ireland, which they now have a big stake in politically, will be left saying that there is one of the political parties here who doesn’t support policing within part of the island until they get some kind of devolved situation which might not happen for the next 20 years. Now that is not a political position I would advise anybody to take up.