CRJ: a private deal, but is it legal?

It lseems that British Government plans to approve the running of CRJ under official auspices are running into deeper water. One Ulster Unionist insider told Slugger that the key question should not be whether CRJ should be funded or not, but whether its activities were actually legal. Former Taoiseach Garrett FitzGerald lays some heavy charges at the door of CRJ:The introductory paragraph is worth quoting in full:

Several years ago, Sinn Féin established “Community Restorative Justice” (CRJ). Its director of training, Harry Maguire, is one of the convicted murderers of two British army corporals at the time of an IRA funeral. Recently, having witnessed the beating of a nationalist, Jeff Commander, by a bunch of republican thugs, he failed to give evidence of this attack to the police in accordance with his duty under Northern Ireland law, writes Garret FitzGerald

To begin with he quotes from the Catriona Ruane article in the Mourne Observer (not online, but Eddie McGrady has a chunk of it here)

Several nationalist families have reported that CRJ members have been involved with the IRA in attempts to intimidate family members into leaving Northern Ireland. Moreover, Eileen Calder, of the Rape Crisis Centre, has stated that the CRJ has “threatened women and attempted to cover up crimes committed by those with IRA, Sinn Féin or CRJ connections. Allowing such people power is like letting the lunatics run the asylum.”

He also notes from the same time that:

Marie Brown, of Foyle Women’s Aid, says CRJ has stated that it would refer cases to her organisation only if it agreed not to involve the police. Finally, the McCartney sisters have told MPS at Westminster that people associated with the murder of their brother are involved in CRJ schemes and that the CRJ is a paramilitary front, used to intimidate the local population and to protect criminals with an IRA background.

According to FitzGerald, in preparing the original guidelines, the British government only consulted CRJ Ireland and Northern Ireland Alternatives. He claims that no other stakeholders were asked:

Then, when the draft guidelines deriving from this carefully-skewed process were issued last December 5th, they were found to have omitted any provision for regulation of these committees or for an independent complaints procedure. Specific provision was also made to exempt local CRJ groups from working with the police, by providing that they could choose instead to deal with the Probation Board for Northern Ireland or the Youth Justice Agency. When the PSNI raised this with the Northern Ireland Office, they were effectively told not to object to these proposed arrangements.

On the three main changes to the latest British proposals:

– There is a requirement on CRJ to notify “a dedicated police [officer] all such information on the matter as the PSNI may require”. But there is no requirement to work with them.

– “An independent, external, complaints procedure” will be provided by the Probation Board, an official government body, but not a statutary body. That is, unlike the Police Ombudsman which has unprecidented powers to investigate the PSNI, it will have absolutely no teeth

– The vetting procedure will not allow anyone convicted of terrorist offences after April 1998 to take up a position with CRJ. Anyone convicted before that date will, as will any ordinary criminal three years afterwards. This, FitzGerald believes, will “enable local IRA activists to continue in a new guise their past intimidation of local communities, whose leaders are currently afraid to speak out against what the British government is now seeking to impose on their areas”.

He concludes that the proposed guidelines are the result of a private deal that “Tony Blair did with Provisional Sinn Féin”.

But the loose nature of the legislation holds some dangers for the CRJ itself. Even if the Ruane statement was ‘a moment of madness’, the near complete absence of public oversight over its activities, compared to the draconian nature of the Police Ombudsman’s brief over the PSNI must have implications for the longer term credibility of the CRJ itself. And it raises the question of its fulnerabilty to human rights legislation.

Finally he puts this move in a ‘human rights’ context of Northern Ireland’s turbulent history:

For 35 years Irish governments have never hesitated to defend the rights of Northern nationalists from abuses – whether by unionist politicians or repressive state actions, or by IRA or loyalist paramilitaries. If, as the unacceptable terms of this revised protocol now suggest, our Government’s private representations on this matter have failed, its duty is to make it clear publicly that the installation of what is effectively a Sinn Féin policing structure in nationalist areas of the North.

, ,

  • Nic

    A brilliant piece. Let’s hope enough Irish people get to read it and reflect on what tangoing with subversives can do to your sovereignty and your freedoms.

  • slug

    I agree with Nic. Excellent analysis, Mick.

    Thanks for that, I have been looking for someone to set last weeks proposals in context, which you have now done.

  • willowfield

    These “CRJ” schemes are a deeply worrying prospect for Northern Ireland, and should be .

    The absence of devolution means that the Provos can work directly with the Peter Hain and his useful fools in the Northern Ireland Office to push their agenda for a legitimised political and social control over working-class Catholic communities.

    The DUP offered itself forward on the basis that it would replace “pushover unionism”. Since it defeated the UUP, the Provo/NIO concession train has moved up several gears.

    Time to get devolution back. Time to get policing and justice under the control of Northern Ireland’s elected representatives, all of whom (bar the Provos) are opposed to Provo CRJ. These CRJ proposals would not get through a devolved Assembly.

    The DUP’s failure to achieve its “fair deal” is irresponsible and is costing us dear. The Provos have more influence in the absence of devolution than they would in a power-sharing executive.

  • The SDLP has picked its fights well over the past year, most notably with the ridiculous OTR plans being scrapped. By systematically highlighting the myriad of pitfalls which CRJ presents, logically it should also fall on the sword. Time will tell if this comes to pass.

    Time and again we see British Government/ Sinn Féin collusion dressed-up as some sort of ‘benefit to communities’- the only people it benefits are provisional republicans. They simply wish to maintain a grip on their areas now that the IRA has left the stage.

    Nationalist/republican areas deserve the same level of police assistance as other areas- some half-baked scheme comprising, amongst others, people whose criminal records display wanton disregard for basic morality, will clearly be detrimental to these areas, regardless of any false cachets of respectability stamped on them by HMG/ Sinn Féin.

    Amateurs with possible ulterior motives cannot replace the most scrtunised police force in the western world when it comes to the investigation of crime, and work must continue in earnest to prevent any moves which would bring this about.

  • willowfield

    Well said, El Matador.

    The SDLP seems to be leading the charge on this one. Sad to say, the DUP and UUP must already have been “pushed over”.

  • T.Ruth

    CRJ schemes would be regarded by most Unionists as a clear example that the IRA has not gone away but has undergone a carefully controlled and constructed metamorphosis and is still inextricably linked to Sinn Fein.
    Again it is about legitimacy.Sinn Fein is unable to accept the PSNI as the legitimate policing authority in this part of the United Kingdom and so the system of policing is subverted.
    CRJ schemes as presently constituted are a barrier to Unionist acceptance of the “Peace Process”

  • na

    Mick,

    Interesting teaser/headline but I’m confused as you don’t provide any detail on your UUP insider’s claims but instead link to an op ed piece with many unsubstantiated claims. Can you expand on what your UUP insider said regarding the legality of CRJ schemes? Or do you not have the detail? Or are you saying that claims of poor practise would, if proven or true, be illegal? Is this a case of unproven allegation being treated as a tide of evidence again or do you have some meat to put on the bones of the claim the schemes are illegal? Or have I completly missed the relevant sections and ended up barking up the wrong tree?

    Either way a bit of clarification would help me out. Thanks.

  • McGrath

    Based on the assumption that all right minded people think the CRJ system is appalling, the question springs to mind, “why do those promoting the CRJ system think it is a good idea?”.

    I feel there is something very sinister going on here, a byproduct of dirty schemes of the past. It strikes me as appeasement of thugs who have incriminating evidence (think counterintelligence) that could cause great political damage and international embarrassment to the British Government.

    If that’s not the entire case then at the very least this CRJ scheme is proof that the British Government will agree to anything that will get Northern Ireland out of their affairs. Hains cursory behaviour is quite indicative of this mindset also.

  • willowfield

    My guess is that they might be illegal by virtue of being in contravention of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights,
    article 6 of which states:

    “In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.”

    Maybe CRJ would not constitute a fair hearing? If you were accused of a misdemeanour in nationalist west Belfast, would you rather be tried by a properly-appointed magistrate in a properly-constituted court, or by a local Provo?

  • na

    Willowfield,

    The head of CRJ has repeatly said they don’t tout for business and if the victim or ‘accused’ at any time withdraws from the process they can’t proceed. Mr Auld claims it is an agreed system where both parties accept a resolution outside the formal criminal justice system. Is that their right or are the victims breaking the law by failing to report the crime to the PSNI?

  • T.Ruth-

    You may well have a point, but I don’t think we should let it act as a barrier to progress. After all, it is such inability to take control of our own affairs which has afforded the British Government the power to make such decisions regarding justice. Addionally, it is nationalist rather than unionist communities which would suffer from such schemes.

    Rather than scaremongering like the DUP and going round in circles, issues such as this must be approached in a mature manner and dealt with effectively. The SDLP has compiled a comprehensive dossier of evidence to prove the case against CRJs, including the aformentioned admission by the Carpetbagger-in-Chief that CRJs are being set up by Sinn Féin as an alternative to the PSNI. This dossier forms part of a heretofore well-executed project which hopefully will result in CRJ fading into history books, whilst still maintaining efforts to progress the political process and perhaps allowing for real restorative justice schemes to be established.

  • willowfield

    Good question, na, and one to which I don’t know the answer.

    My fear is that in Provo-controlled districts, “pressure” will be put on people – both victims and accused – to go to CRJ rather than the police and the courts. I would fear that the accused will be pressurised into giving up their human rights to a properly-conducted trial, in order to go through CRJ. The accused will always, in effect, be presumed guilty. Will the accused have the right to legal representation?

  • na

    The CRJ say they can’t proceed unless both sides agree to the process. I haven’t seen any evidence to the contrary and while I can understand some taking a ‘I don’t believe them’ attitude it remains an opinion without substantiation so doesn’t seem to amount to proof of undue pressure or illegal activity.

  • Mick Fealty

    na,

    What he said was in reaction to this line in the Newsletter, that funding (or no funding) was the main issue.

    Instead he believed the actual practice should be examined, and if found to meet legal standards it could be funded. If not, then the state should then consider what further actions it might need to take. It should not, he believed, acquiese.

    I would also note that he was very critical of the DUP for precisely the reasons Willowfield has outlined above. If it helps in terms of context, this was said before the FitzGerald piece, not after.

    Re the title, the problem with a lot of this stuff is that little of it is likely to pass under the scrutiny of any legislature, Irish or British. The specific question of legality I’ve raised this context is its vulnerablity to existing Human Rights legislation.

  • na

    There are also allegations in Mr Fitzgerald’s piece I can’t understand. He claims an individual from CRJ is failing to cooperate with the police, an allegation also made by others.

    I have heard Mr Auld say that the person in question has never been approached by the PSNI on this matter despite what seem to be allegations of withholding information on an assault. Maybe the person believes they have no information to give? Maybe they actually don’t have any information? If the PSNI believe something to the contrary after being informed of the claims by 3rd parties why have they not approached him and interviewed him under caution?

    Or have they? Am I barking up a wrong tree on this one also?

  • na

    Mick,

    ‘The specific question of legality I’ve raised this context is its vulnerablity to existing Human Rights legislation.’

    My question to Willowfield then seems a pretty central point. If as CRJ state they only proceed on agreement from victim and accused to use CRJ rather than the formal criminal justice system and if either withdraws they cannot proceed; is that their right?

    Or is the argument ‘i don’t believe them’ being advanced with no supporting evidence as some kind of human rights violation?

  • T Ruth

    El matador
    I have been very impressed by the honesty and forthrightness displayed by various SDLP people in relation to CRJ-and disappointed by the failure of Unionist politicians to vigorously attack the whole concept of vigilante justice schemes.
    The ability of Blair and Hain to act as IRA appeasers clearly sets the CRJ concept in the conText of another past dirty deal and another betrayal of democracy. But then when one watches Blair imitate the Bush walk and the Bush talk in the middle east to explain why innocent children are dying one is hardly surprised.Expediency enables both men to plumb any depth

  • willowfield

    na

    I never mentioned proof, I said it was my fear.

    My instinct is that in Provo-controlled districts, “pressure” will be brought to bear to ensure that people “agree” to have matters referred to CRJ rather than the police. Those accused of crimes will have to either accept guilt without a trial, or face social ostracism or worse.

  • na

    The claims from Marie Brown and Eileen Calder are more worrying if true. CRJ certainly don’t seem equipped to deal with cases like rape or murder especially not apart from people trained in dealing with the emotional issues. If victims are approaching CRJ as Ms Brown claims they should be referring them to organisations such as Women’s Aid or the RCC but clearly some rape victims feel uncomfortable with the criminal justice system and this does not extend just to those in nationalist areas. I would hope that this if true is stopped but also think no support group should refer the issue to the police if the victim does not wish to.

    Ms Claders comments have been semi-quoted by Mr Fitzgerald only giving her worst assessment and that is just plain dishonest.

    “”At best, CRJ adopt a wellmeaning but ham-fisted approach on rape and sexual abuse with which they aren’t qualified to deal. They’ve hampered cases by interfering with evidence which meant the perpetrators weren’t brought to court.

    “At worst, they’ve threatened women and attempted to cover up crimes committed by those with IRA, Sinn Fein or CRJ connections. Allowing such people power is like letting the lunatics run the asylum.”

    Regardless, I agree that CRJ wouldn’t seem qualified to deal with rape cases alone or in a perfect world at all, even if as CRJ claim they don’t tout for business and the victim would have had to approach them on the issue.

  • Turbo Paul

    The Brit govt attitude seems to be:

    “We’ll drive of that bridge when we get to it”

    to use the Ted Kennedy reference.

    Whether driving off will be an accident or deliberate only time will tell.

    Playing politics with peoples lives, business as usual then!!!

  • willowfield

    As a citizen, another of my fears about CRJ (generally, not just in relation to Provo CRJ), is that it seems to me to be like a form of arbitrary justice.

    Surely it is a principle of a fair justice system, that a person is tried before a properly-appointed judge or magistrate, and sentenced by same, and not by the victim.

    Is the following scenario in the interests of justice?

    Person A steals someone’s car in one place, and Person B steals someone’s car in another place. Person A lives in an area with a CRJ system and his victim has a social conscience and feels sorry for him. Person A gets off with clearing out his victim’s garage and building a wall in the garden and has no criminal record; but Person B ends up in jail with a criminal record.

    Or am I misunderstanding how CRJ works?

  • maura

    ‘What he said was in reaction to this line in the Newsletter, that funding (or no funding) was the main issue.

    Instead he believed the actual practice should be examined, and if found to meet legal standards it could be funded. If not, then the state should then consider what further actions it might need to take. It should not, he believed, acquiese.’

    The value of these CRJ groups has never been proven to me. Proponents of this system often speak in very abstract terms that really do not convince me that society is well served by ordinary people without any real training, handling criminal issues.
    The arguments for and against go back and forth,and in the meantime the security of our communities just gets further and further politicised. And that is not helpful. If half the effort was put in BY ALL concerned to establishing an acceptable police force, we would be better served and our communities would be safer to live in.

  • willowfield

    Why do you think the police force is unacceptable, Maura.

    (Incidentally, could someone explain why people more-often-than-not refer to the “Newsletter” (one word), when the paper itself uses two words?)

  • TAFKABO

    It would all be hilarious if not for the human rights abuses that are bound to occur. The SDLP are playing a clever game here, by setting out their stall so firmly and clearly, they will be there to mop up the defectors from Sinn Fein when the scandals start happening. And let’s be in no doubt here, they will happen. No system of justice that is run behind closed doors can hope to avoid scandal and corruption. All it takes is the rumour of scandal and corruption, because the lack of accountability works both ways, with those involved in CRJ being unable to deal with whispering campaigns when they start.
    For all the talk about equal culpability between the Brits and Sinn Fein, it’s not the Brits who stand to lose votes when it all goes tits up.

    Sinn Fein have made a rod for their own backs here, and for what?
    What on earth do they hope to gain that is worth risking all that they stand to lose when people get a chance to take the Pepsi/Coke challenge between British judicial abuses and Sinn Fein judicial abuses?

  • conor

    how else cold sf sell an endorsement of the PSNI without having CRJ established. the arguments against crj are completely decontextualised. the fact is that most working-class republican areas actively detest the PSNI. That cant really be disputed. So if SF are, as expected, to endorse the PSNI, how could they do so without some sort of buffer arangement in place. remember the patten reforms were a compromise for republicans. the authors of patten later stated that their recomendations hadn’t ‘just been cherry-picked, but gutted’. in that context how else could sinn fein justify, or sell, the idea of buying into the PSNI without CRJ, or some similar alternative, in place. that is the real politik of the matter and would explain why the irish and british governments are keen to find an arrangement.

  • maura

    Conor, ‘ So if SF are, as expected, to endorse the PSNI, how could they do so without some sort of buffer arangement in place. remember the patten reforms were a compromise for republicans. the authors of patten later stated that their recomendations hadn’t ‘just been cherry-picked, but gutted’. in that context how else could sinn fein justify, or sell, the idea of buying into the PSNI without CRJ, or some similar alternative, in place. that is the real politik of the matter and would explain why the irish and british governments are keen to find an arrangement.’

    That is an excellent point.

  • conor

    Maura,
    its a point that people with a clear agenda often choose to ignore. They prefer to ‘focus’ on republican ‘criminality’. a theme first introduced in 1975. You have to look at the whole picture. Instead of focusing on republican ‘criminality’ and treating the PSNI as a normal police service, maybe these people would do well to concentrate upon the PSNI/RUC’s history of collusion etc and also realise that a compromise on policing is a huge, huge, move for republicans.

  • maura

    Conor: ‘treating the PSNI as a normal police service, maybe these people would do well to concentrate upon the PSNI/RUC’s history of collusion etc and also realise that a compromise on policing is a huge, huge, move for republicans. ‘

    I agree Conor, but I think it is a move we have to make. Society can not function without a police service. As I said, I am not really a big fan of these CRJ groups, although I will listen to those who are for/against, but you made a very valid point about why their existence might ease the transition for us.

  • willowfield

    Only one “author of Patten” made the comment that you quote. Patten, himself, of course disagreed with him!

  • willowfield

    Above comment was to Conor.

    I note Maura is unable to explain why she thinks the police are unacceptable.

  • conor

    Willowfield,

    just the one? thats ok then. mustn’t mean much

  • willowfield

    It means your comment was a misrepresentation.

    In what way do you think the Patten reforms were “gutted”?

  • conor

    willowfield,

    of course you would prefer to focus on the ‘criminality’ of republicans and igonore the history of policing in the north.
    what, in your opinion, is the history of policing in the north?
    an honest answer would be great.

  • maura

    Conor:’of course you would prefer to focus on the ‘criminality’ of republicans and igonore the history of policing in the north.
    what, in your opinion, is the history of policing in the north?
    an honest answer would be great.’

    Your expectations are excessive!

  • conor

    I’ll tell you how the police haven’t changed. and ill be clear.
    The PSNI/RUC are a political police force. Without going into the history of the B specials and RUC we will start at a more contemporary point.
    The people with real power in the PSNI are the SB. They colluded, and actively encouraged, in the murder of innocent catholic civilians for 30 years. U cant doubt that. At the moment the Police Ombudsman is investigating the murder of raymond mccord. when her report is published it is expected to point at a nexus of sB collusion with loyalist terrorists and the subsequent murder of more than a dozen people. Some force eh? Pat Finucane. Clearly murdered on the instruction, and help of Special Branch. No public inquiry. Instead a public inquiry held in private. Condemned in the Dail, US Congress, US senate, Amnesty international. Why u think the brits would brave that criticism? The Cory Report, the Stevens Report, the Stalker Inquiry, Stormongate and Denis Donaldson. work it out urself and think if dramatic alternatives have been made to this gang? Oh i forgot they changed their cap.

  • willowfield

    CONOR

    of course you would prefer to focus on the ‘criminality’ of republicans and igonore the history of policing in the north.

    Where did I do that?

    what, in your opinion, is the history of policing in the north?
    an honest answer would be great.

    A ridiculous question. I do not intend to spend the next few days writing a book. The “history of policing” is irrelevant to the fact that you attempted to misrepresent the authors of Patten.

    I note you were unable to explain how Patten had been “gutted”.

  • maura

    Willowfield, I will answer by telling you what I will accept in a Police Force.

    One that cuts its ties with Loyalist Paramilitaries.
    One that comes to terms and acknowledges its brutal history ( in all its various alphabet forms)against the Nationalist Community since the inception of the State.
    One that openly admits that members colluded with Loyalist death squads who murdered innocent Catholics.
    One that does not provide escort for Loyalists putting up illegal paramilitary flags around the 12th ( as happened recently).
    A Police service that represents the interests of all members of the community in a non-sectarian and compassionate manner. Isn’t it a wonder to behold that we never actually had that in the ‘democratic state’ of Northern Ireland??
    How’s that?

    WILLOW: I note Maura is unable to explain why she thinks the police are unacceptable.

    Hehe, what’s next pointing out my many typos?

  • conor

    willowfield,
    so tell me, you don’t understand, or realise the huge difficulties that republicans have in terms of the PSNI? Are you a serious person?

  • John Maynard

    Conor, your posting is a very sad mirror image of unionist reaction to changes in the IRA.

  • maura

    ‘your posting is a very sad mirror image of unionist reaction to changes in the IRA.’

    John there may in fact be some truth in that! However, I think that we Nationalists are, as a whole, acknowledging that the establishment of a Police Force is a necessary step for society.
    When will we see the DUP make parallel moves?

  • willowfield

    The PSNI/RUC are a political police force.

    WHat do you mean by a “political police force” and why do you think the PSNI is such a force?

    The people with real power in the PSNI are the SB.

    WHat is your basis for saying that? What did Patten recommend in respect of the SB, and to what extent is it not being implemented?

    They colluded, and actively encouraged, in the murder of innocent catholic civilians for 30 years.

    Again, what is your basis for this claim? It strikes me as being quite an exaggeration.

    U cant doubt that.

    I can. I am aware that there are several cases of both “loyalist” and “republican” agents being allowed to kill (both Roman Catholics and Protestants), mostly in the 1980s, with police knowledge in order to retain them as agents. “Active encouragement” I’m not so sure about. But I am sure that to suggest that this was a constant ongoing activity for 30 years is a huge exaggeration.

    But what has this got to do with your claim that Patten has been “gutted”?

    At the moment the Police Ombudsman is investigating the murder of raymond mccord. when her report is published it is expected to point at a nexus of sB collusion with loyalist terrorists and the subsequent murder of more than a dozen people. Some force eh? Pat Finucane. Clearly murdered on the instruction, and help of Special Branch. No public inquiry. Instead a public inquiry held in private. Condemned in the Dail, US Congress, US senate, Amnesty international. Why u think the brits would brave that criticism? The Cory Report, the Stevens Report, the Stalker Inquiry, Stormongate and Denis Donaldson. work it out urself and think if dramatic alternatives have been made to this gang? Oh i forgot they changed their cap.

    Again, I fail to see what this has got to do with your claim that Patten has been “gutted”. Or, indeed, with CRJ.

  • conor

    im not lookin a book mate. just a brief synopsis of what the police role in the north has been. cant u answer that? since you argue so vehemently agaisnt CRJ, i would presume u have a healthy respect for the ‘forces of law and order’.
    I realise you dont want to expose urself for the narrow minded bigot that u are. So i’ll ask u some basic questions.

    1. Did the RUC/PSNI collude with loyalist terrorists? Yes or no will do.

    2. Did the nationalist population always feel alienated from the police in the north?

    3. Was the police used as an oppresive force in republican areas?

    4. Why would u think, given that the republican community don’t accept the legitimacy of the north, they are being mis-represented by sf in terms of policing.

  • conor

    willowfield,

    this is how. go find ur own info from now on.

    • It waters down the report’s recommendation for a power ful board by limiting its budget and its power to investigate police wrongdoing. “The bill completely eviscerates these proposals,” he writes.

    • It dilutes the powers of district policing partnerships (DPPs) which are designed to involve local councils in the new force. Nationalists are angry that Mr Patten’s proposal for the DPPs to raise their own funds has been abandoned.

    • It abandons the Patten report’s “core project” to improve security in Northern Ireland in the broadest sense – beyond simply reforming the police. The bill focuses solely on the police, rather than the wider issues of policing, he says. “It reflects the limited conception of policing Patten sought to transcend.”

  • Mick Fealty

    There certainly are questions over the degree to which the Ombudsman’s Office can penetrate in the doings of the security forces. It is a valid question and one that will be raised over and over.

    More power to those who continue to do it.

    Whatever questions are raised over the PSNI, the questions raised by FitzGerald are both fairly routine and operational. He argues that lack of any, rather than sufficiently penetrative, oversight over CRJ is the first problem that has to be addressed.

    Maura also raises an interesting problem. There are trials of CRJ currently taking place in Britain on the actual effectiveness of CRJ schemes. So far the results are mixed. Some show substantial improvements in re-offending rates, others none.

    It is unlikely to get the approval of Louise Casey in Britain unless it proves its effectiveness there.

  • willowfield

    MAURA

    One that cuts its ties with Loyalist Paramilitaries.

    What do you mean by this? Do you mean it shouldn’t operate agents within “loyalist” terror gangs? If so, then, I would find that unacceptable as I think the “loyalists” are the most significant criminal problem in NI at the minute and intelligence is vital in bringing them to justice.

    Do you mean an end to “collusion”? If so, then that is already the case and has been for years.

    One that comes to terms and acknowledges its brutal history ( in all its various alphabet forms)against the Nationalist Community since the inception of the State.

    And how could this be achieved?

    One that openly admits that members colluded with Loyalist death squads who murdered innocent Catholics.

    As far as I am aware it does admit this.

    One that does not provide escort for Loyalists putting up illegal paramilitary flags around the 12th ( as happened recently).

    I would agree with you about that.

    A Police service that represents the interests of all members of the community in a non-sectarian and compassionate manner.

    We’ve already got that, too.

    I can’t really see much of a basis for your earlier claim that the police aren’t acceptable: agents will always be necessary in the fight against crime; collusion doesn’t happen and has been acknowledged; and the police does represent the interests of all members of the community.

    The issue about flags is a fair one, but hardly a show-stopper. There is a major problem of political will, in my view, in Government – and transmitted to the police – to avoid any major confrontation with paramilitary gangs. That is why we have the shameful scenes of the police standing by while flags are erected – they are there to prevent trouble between the flag-erectors and the opponents of the flag-erectors rather than to arrest the flag-erectors. (Although are you sure the flags were illegal? It may be that no crime was being committed.)

    CONOR

    so tell me, you don’t understand, or realise the huge difficulties that republicans have in terms of the PSNI? Are you a serious person?

    I understand largely what the rhetorical objections are, but not really the practical ones. My view is that support for the police is merely being held in order to wring concessions. My view is that the Provo leadership has come to terms with the fact that they have no reasonable basis for continuing to oppose the police, but that their support base has not been sufficiently prepared for the day.

  • conor

    ok willowfield.

    lets go through this step by step.

    the reason i say that the sb is the real power in PSNI are as follows.
    the most junior sb man can over rule a detective inspector in the mainstream police.
    before hugh orde the previous four chief constables were former sb men. the SB were the driving force in stormontgate, ie Alan McQuillan, Derek Martindale.

    your second point about collusion (and i note the bigoted remark about Roman Catholics) lets just call them Catholics or nationalists eh?
    If you cant face up to ruc collusion with loyaist terrorists im not about to start ‘educating’ you. live in denial if it makes ur arguments easier. Alternatively read, the mainly redacted, cory report, stevens inquiry if you don’t believe it.

    and if u read my above post u will see Professor Clifford Shearing, patten author, and see his views.

  • maura

    ‘My view is that support for the police is merely being held in order to wring concessions. My view is that the Provo leadership has come to terms with the fact that they have no reasonable basis for continuing to oppose the police, but that their support base has not been sufficiently prepared for the day. ‘

    And to a certain extent I agree with you again. However ,all parties have politicised the issue, including Sinn Fein. That’s politics, isn’t it, we all use whatever baragining chips we might possess. Good for the goose…….
    When all the issues have been dealt with, which thet haven’t been, despite your claims, then there will of course be no reasonable basis for opposing a balanced, well trained police force. Roll on the day, I say.

  • conor

    [keep it civil – edited moderator],
    so effectively your world view is that republican objections to policing are ‘rhetorical’. i think u used that in the wrong context. no matter. so there are no practical objections. Given collusion, the position of the police in relation to the north and their history thereof? Really. Your view is a load of bollocks. And please now that i provided u with the reasons for prof shearing’s pronouncment that patten was gutted, could u rebuff them? U seemed desperate for specifics earlier. now uve got them. rebuff them!

  • willowfield

    CONOR

    It does not follow that because one is opposed to CRJ that one must therefore believe that the police were or are perfect! The SDLP is opposed to CRJ, for example, and would probably share much of your criticism of the police. I would share some of your criticism too, no doubt.

    Your leap of logic is too much.

    Just to indulge you, though:

    1. Did the RUC/PSNI collude with loyalist terrorists? Yes or no will do.

    Yes. And with nationalist terrorists.

    2. Did the nationalist population always feel alienated from the police in the north?

    I don’t know. But I would say most did, yes.

    3. Was the police used as an oppresive force in republican areas?

    It depends what you mean by “oppressive”, I guess. I’ve no doubt, though, that excessive force was used on many occasions.

    4. Why would u think, given that the republican community don’t accept the legitimacy of the north, they are being mis-represented by sf in terms of policing.

    What do you mean by misrepresented? Did I claim they were being misrepresented?

    What’s all of this got to do with Patten?

    • It waters down the report’s recommendation for a power ful board by limiting its budget and its power to investigate police wrongdoing. “The bill completely eviscerates these proposals,” he writes.

    As far as I know, the report didn’t recommend a particular budget for the board (can you refer me to which paragraph?) And the Board has full power to investigate.

    • It dilutes the powers of district policing partnerships (DPPs) which are designed to involve local councils in the new force. Nationalists are angry that Mr Patten’s proposal for the DPPs to raise their own funds has been abandoned.

    How does it dilute the powers of DPPs? WHen the Executive is restored, it can legislate to allow DPPs to raise funds.

    • It abandons the Patten report’s “core project” to improve security in Northern Ireland in the broadest sense – beyond simply reforming the police. The bill focuses solely on the police, rather than the wider issues of policing, he says. “It reflects the limited conception of policing Patten sought to transcend.”

    That’s just a matter of personal opinion that doesn’t offer anything tangible. Patten himself disagreed and endorsed the Government response to the report.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Conor,

    You’ve made some excellent contributions here. But calling another commenter names will lead to a sharp exit! See Slugger’s Commenting Policy!!

  • willowfield

    CONOR

    the reason i say that the sb is the real power in PSNI are as follows. the most junior sb man can over rule a detective inspector in the mainstream police.

    I’ll have to take your word for that, but presumably he can’t overrule anyone higher than a DI. What did Patten recommend in respect of the SB, and to what extent is it not being implemented?

    before hugh orde the previous four chief constables were former sb men. the SB were the driving force in stormontgate, ie Alan McQuillan, Derek Martindale.

    I guess SB, as the most important detective agency in the police, got the best people so it’s not surprising chief constables had SB experience. It’s probably the same in most police forces.

    your second point about collusion (and i note the ####### remark about Roman Catholics) lets just call them Catholics or nationalists eh?

    Sorry?

    If you cant face up to ruc collusion with loyaist terrorists im not about to start ‘educating’ you. live in denial if it makes ur arguments easier. Alternatively read, the mainly redacted, cory report, stevens inquiry if you don’t believe it.

    I don’t live in denial. I merely objected to exaggeration. None of the reports you mention indicate collusion to the extent that you imply.

    so effectively your world view is that republican objections to policing are ‘rhetorical’.

    I said I was familiar with the rhetorical objections. There may be substantial objections, too, but I’m sceptical about those.

    Given collusion, the position of the police in relation to the north and their history thereof? Really.

    Collusion doesn’t happen anymore and hasn’t for years. History is by definition in the past.

    Your view is a load of bollocks.

    That’s a very convincing and well thought-out argument.

  • conor

    [Keep to the ball, Conor – edited moderator],
    i would imagine that prof shearer mite know more about patten than you. so if you don’t mind ill take his word over yours. if u can prove it wrong, feel free. but the onus isn’t me, its on you.
    what i am doing is trying to change the emphasis of this debate from whether or not CRJ is ‘legal’ or whatever unto the far broader, and more fundamental issue of policing in the north. which afterall is the reason the debate exists in the first place, with regard to CRJ. Ur post reveals a lot of ignorance. ur point that in some, or a lot, of instances the police used excessive force misses the point. the RUC/PSNI have an ideological position within the north and they have a fundamentally, and always have had, political role.
    ur mischevious assertion that the police colluded with nationalist ( i always thought republican) paramilitaries misses the point. Did that collusion result in the systemic murder of innocent protestants? No it didn’t and u know it didn’t. Furthermore the RUC/PSNI actually built up loyalist paramilitaries, ie dragged them from their extortionist ways in the 1980s, to rebuild them into a proxy force that terrorised catholics.
    And this goes back to my original point, vis-avis, the PSNIs role in the north the police have always been a protestant police force for a protestant state, therefore their activities, often murderous, have always been skewed in that direction.
    so why dont u stop patronising me and start acting like a reasoned adult and admit that within the pathetic statelet that is the north, murder of innocent catholics took place, at the behest of the police and government, in order to pursue a wider political agenda.
    that agenda was to instill fear into nationalists in order that they would lower their demands and expectations. and put pressure on the IRA for a ceasefire. all of this goes to the heart of the CRJ debate, since essentialy it is adebate about the legitimacy of policing.
    if you dont want to examine the history, modus iperandi, affiliations, or actions of the police then i really dont understand how u can meaningfuly contribute to this debate.

  • conor

    Collusion hasn’t happened in years? so how come the Ombudsman is investigating a string of murders up until 2003? But anyway that is hardly a convincing argument. The people and the system and the effects of that collusion are still here!!!

  • Mick Fealty

    Last warning Conor. One more time, and you are off the field. Email me if you think there are mitigating circumstances!

  • willowfield

    CONOR

    i would imagine that prof shearer mite [sic] know more about patten than you. so if you don’t mind ill [sic] take his word over yours.

    I would imagine that Chris Patten might know more about Patten than you. So if you don’t mind I’ll take his word over yours.

    what i am doing is trying to change the emphasis of this debate from whether or not CRJ is ‘legal’ or whatever unto the far broader, and more fundamental issue of policing in the north.

    Well go ahead. THe rest of us will stick to the topic.

    which afterall is the reason the debate exists in the first place, with regard to CRJ. Ur post reveals a lot of ignorance. ur point that in some, or a lot, of instances the police used excessive force misses the point. the RUC/PSNI have an ideological position within the north and they have a fundamentally, and always have had, political role.

    The PSNI does not have an “ideological position”, any moreso than any other police force. It is just a police force required to uphold the law of the land.

    ur mischevious assertion that the police colluded with nationalist ( i always thought republican) paramilitaries misses the point. Did that collusion result in the systemic murder of innocent protestants?

    It resulted no doubt in the murder of many Roman Catholics, and possibly Protestants, too.

    Furthermore the RUC/PSNI actually built up loyalist paramilitaries, ie dragged them from their extortionist ways in the 1980s, to rebuild them into a proxy force that terrorised catholics.

    What is your basis for this claim?!

    And this goes back to my original point, vis-avis, the PSNIs role in the north the police have always been a protestant police force for a protestant state, therefore their activities, often murderous, have always been skewed in that direction.

    The PSNI is not “a protestant police force for a protestant state”.

    so why dont u stop patronising me and start acting like a reasoned adult and admit that within the pathetic statelet that is the north, murder of innocent catholics took place, at the behest of the police and government, in order to pursue a wider political agenda.

    I have never denied that innocent Roman Catholics were murdered, nor at the behest of some within the police. I do not know whether anyone was murdered at the behst of the government.

    that agenda was to instill fear into nationalists in order that they would lower their demands and expectations. and put pressure on the IRA for a ceasefire. all of this goes to the heart of the CRJ debate, since essentialy it is adebate about the legitimacy of policing.
    if you dont want to examine the history, modus iperandi, affiliations, or actions of the police then i really dont understand how u can meaningfuly contribute to this debate.

    Your concerns have been addressed. The police is not today as you describe it was in the past.

    Collusion hasn’t happened in years? so how come the Ombudsman is investigating a string of murders up until 2003? But anyway that is hardly a convincing argument. The people and the system and the effects of that collusion are still here!!!

    Some of the people may be there, but in the absence of evidence you cannot sack them. THe system is not there. And the effects will be there regardless of CRJ.

  • conor

    well mick
    i get very annoyed at this annodine nonsense spouted by people and their refusal to admit that the debate is really about the PSNI. but i apologise for insulting mr/miss willowfield. ive only been on here a few times before, so im not too clued up on the rules.

  • Mick Fealty

    Okay, I’ll let it slide then. But try to keep your eye on the ball… Each of us have different personal stylistic approaches to each question. That’s personal. You should practice intolerance of the opposing argument rather than on the person making it!

  • conor

    Well ill tell you what my basis for the claim that the police restructured loyalists is, the word of former police, fru and loyalists.

    look at c company. tucker lyttle deposed, who replaced him? Actually i really dont wanna start going back to basics here. i take it that u ignore news u dont wanna here and so thats why are u are so ignorant of collusion.

    upholding the law of the land?
    Whose land? Whose state? Whose rules? No ideological position. the sick (not sic!) county statelet is abnormal. it has no political consensus within it. it has no parallels in western europe. so the police, armed since 1921, have upheld the laws and rules of a state, born out of bloodshed and violence, without the consent of 40% plus of its ‘subjects’. and u put them in terms of ‘any other police force’, nonsense. absolute decontextualised nonsense.

    the reforms have changed the PSNI/RUC? My concerns, not just mine, have been addressed?

    really. so how come that same honourable, law abiding force, is being investigated for murders committed just a few years ago? How come they were able to take down stormont and case political paralysis in the north through the spy ring. a british spy – denis donaldson. how come Orde had to apologise for the behaviour of the PSN on that occasion. how come one of its authors said it had been cherry picked?

    has collusion been addressed?

    Ask stevens, stalker, cory? Don’t think so buddy boy.

    you seem like an ruc apologist.

  • conor

    u have to admit though, im good for business mick!! this post was dull before i came on! Admit it matie!! lol

  • willowfield

    Well ill tell you what my basis for the claim that the police restructured loyalists is, the word of former police, fru and loyalists. look at c company. tucker lyttle deposed, who replaced him?

    The fact that someone was deposed and replaced does not demonstrate that the police “restructured” “loyalists” into a proxy force for killing Roman Catholics. That’s very weak evidence!

    upholding the law of the land?
    Whose land? Whose state? Whose rules? No ideological position.

    The land, state and rules of the people of Northern Ireland. Just like the Southern Irish police uphold the law of the land in the South; or the Dutch police in the Netherlands, etc. Maybe those police forces have “ideological positions”, too!

    the sick (not sic!) county statelet is abnormal. it has no political consensus within it. it has no parallels in western europe. so the police, armed since 1921, have upheld the laws and rules of a state, born out of bloodshed and violence, without the consent of 40% plus of its ‘subjects’. and u put them in terms of ‘any other police force’, nonsense. absolute decontextualised nonsense.

    Your issue, then, is not with the police, but with Northern Ireland itself. That is entirely a different matter. Your objection to the police fundamentally is that they are the Northern Ireland police and you don’t like Northern Ireland.

    the reforms have changed the PSNI/RUC? My concerns, not just mine, have been addressed? really. so how come that same honourable, law abiding force, is being investigated for murders committed just a few years ago? How come they were able to take down stormont and case political paralysis in the north through the spy ring. a british spy – denis donaldson. how come Orde had to apologise for the behaviour of the PSN on that occasion. how come one of its authors said it had been cherry picked?

    The concern that you expressed related to “instilling fear into nationalists”, and collusion. That is not the case. The PSNI do not “instill fear into nationalists”. The PSNI does not collude with terrorists. If you think it does, you should complain to the Policing Board, Police Ombudsman or your MP.

    has collusion been addressed? Ask stevens, stalker, cory? Don’t think so buddy boy.

    Do Stevens, Stalker and Cory believe that the PSNI is colluding with terrorists? I’m unaware of that. Can you provide any evidence?

  • Comrade Stalin

    El Matador, I wouldn’t bother engaging T Ruth. He’s one of the people who refuses to answer questions about the documented links between unionism and loyalist paramilitaries. I’ll bet he was a Vanguard supporter, and like most unionists spent the last 30 years blocking power sharing with the SDLP.

  • Conor-

    “The PSNI/RUC are a political police force.”

    Ruane-

    “In the coming months Sinn Féin plans to set up similar (CRJ) schemes throughout South Down in order to offer a viable alternative to the PSNI.”

    Rather strange that SF would complain about ‘Political Policing’ (without evidence of any political influence on the PSNI), and then set about establishing an alternative which, by their own admission, is being set up by a political party i.e. themselves.

    They basically want to replace a police force which they claim is politically motivated, with one which by design has direct political links.

    I know which one I would describe as ‘political policing’.

  • Sorry conor, but the fact that you believe someone was being insulting by referring to Roman Catholics says all I need to know about how much you think before you speak, and betrays more than a little prejudice. 2nd and 3rd bullet-points

    Willowfield has done a good job in pointing out the holes in your argument (where there is one beyond unfounded allegations) and you respond by insulting him.

    “The people and the system and the effects of that collusion are still here!!! “
    So why did Sinn Fein/SDLP ask for so many changes to the police? Talk about moving the goal posts.

  • Mick Fealty

    All,

    I’ve had several emails recently complaining about the degree of mud slinging recently.

    CS, I’m surprised at you. Everyone (bar none) on this site picks and chooses what questions they answer. They are entitled to make those decisions without be ostracised for it.

    To the rest, just try to get back to substance.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Sorry Mick, I was a bit out of order there.

    El Matador, that point about CRJ actually being “political policing” is an obvious one, but it didn’t occur to me until you put it so succinctly.

  • harpo

    “why do those promoting the CRJ system think it is a good idea?”

    McGrath:

    You work it out.

    Why would paramilitary organizations think that a separate ‘justice’ system controlled by the paramilitaries is a good idea?

    Hmmmmmm?

    It really isn’t that hard a question.

  • TAFKABO

    Harpo.

    Actually, I don’t think it is such an easy question to answer. Sure, on the surface it seems obvious, but once you get into the ramifications and longterm effect that are likely to result, I can’t for the life of me see what Sinn Fein has to gain from these structures.

    So, we’re left to conclude that even though it seems obvious this will be a disaster for the political side of republicanism, it is still something the physical force side of republicanism wants to pursue.

    Which begs the question, who is in charge here exactly?

  • T.Ruth

    Comrade Stalin
    I am unaware how you conclude that I would find loyalist violence different in any way or less reprehensible than Republican violence. I am opposed implacably to criminality in any form.

    I am aware that north and south, both governments and police forces have in the past been guilty of debasing the moral coinage and the judicial system in both jurisdictions. Any departure from proper policing methods,any attempt by the state to use any means other than the law to bring criminals to justice is merely to descend to the level of the terrorist.I believed that in 1968 and I believe it now.We have had forty years of that approach and it only makes the problems of achieving Peace exponentially more difficult.

    We must all oppose any attempt to put terrorists or former terrorists in the policing system in any form.Community Restorative Justice schemes are a major threat to the future stability of our society and will not be restricted in their effects to Northern Ireland alone.

    The CRJ system is part of the continuation of the struggle to achieve the failed Republican dream and the means by which Loyalist and Republicans will seek to maintain effective control of their areas with the Police excluded.
    I can think of no greater threat to those who live in deprived or working class communities. It is as if in a school the disciplinary function was handed over to the thugs and bullies. I cannot understand how any democrat could support these schemes. Nor can I forgive those in this or previous police services/forces who engaged or would engage in collusion and state violence and murder have undermined our society and continue to do so.

    We want a better future for all in our community.A Peace Process that seeks through using a metamorphosed IRA to achieve Republican victory rather than an agreed solution to our problems is likely to destroy any chance of a responsibility sharing Assembly.
    We really need to take a reality check if we want a society with a separate policing system.
    Those supporting CRJ schemes are not going to solve our problems.

  • aquifer

    The former army side of things might like to keep their options open, or at least know what their options are. So they would like to have a good handle on what youth in their areas are up to, both in terms of controlling dissidents criminal or parapolitical, and to have a good idea of what talent may exist for any regrettably ‘necessary’ resumption of violence and disruption.

    A shortage of firearms need not be an obstacle to effective disruption of economic or political life. Territorial aggression, arson, vandalism, sectarian provocation, and economic crimes are all options carrying less risks than armed insurrection. Options that could be supported in practice by official street vigilantes or ‘justice workers’, by ignoring certain offences or particular offenders, or by simply understanding their community’s frustrations ‘too well’.

    There may well be private ‘off the books’ agreements that mean the British will proceed with ‘CRJ’ despite the risks, unless Paisley, Adams et al negotiate CRJ away in public.

    I’d bet on CRJ, and more taxes as an attempt to wake the garden centre prods from their slumber.

    Maybe what we need is some ‘Anti Political Behaviour Orders’ for delinquent politicians, with offenders made to fix broken windows and scrub off scorch damage. That could put the twin leaders of the global Axis of Unbelievable in the dock though, so that won’t happen.