fundamental in every society.. indeed.

The interesting point to note in the statement released on the NIO website on Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland, and self-declared candidate for Deputy Leader [that’s an optimistic 5/2 odds – Ed], Peter Hain’s speech to the NI Police Federation is the chosen emphasis “Support for the Police is fundamental in every society.” Of course, the late Denis Faul said it better, “Either there is law or no law. That is the basis of a civilised society”. But it calls into question Peter Hain’s previous pronouncements on policing and political parties lack of support for policing. Added below
IN his Glenties speech earlier this summer he attempted to draw a distinction between supporting the police and constitutional endorsement

“I would strongly urge the republican leadership to draw a distinction between constitutional endorsement of the structures of policing and support for the practical service of policing in the community.”

An attempt that Gerry Adams, rightly IMO, described as “patronising republicans”… and, I’d add, everyone else.

But it was in an interview in the Newsletter that Hain made it clear that he believed that support for policing could be secondary to other considerations, ie not fundamental at all.

News Letter: But it is also about not making the mistake that has been made in the past. You have admitted the Government has been a bit too optimistic about republicans in the past. There must be an absolute end to crime and violence, so a deal sticks.

Peter Hain: Oh, I agree and I have acknowledged that with Ian Paisley when he has put that point to me privately and I do so now. The DUP deserves a lot of credit for insisting the violence and the criminality has to be stripped out of Northern Ireland politics and republicanism.

But I think with republican politics, having moved in response to that pressure, absolutely radically, there is then an issue, as I said in my letter, as to whether you grasp this opportunity. Do you say, we are better having everyone inside the tent where we can really influence them? Where Ian Paisley can say to Martin McGuinness in an Executive, I won’t agree to the devolution of policing and justice until you guys have signed up fully for cooperation for the police. You can better do that inside, when you are negotiating and bargaining on a future government programme, rather than just be screaming at each other.

Added Given the focus, in the initial comments, on one particular tree in the wood, it’s worthwhile recalling what Peter Hain had to say on the issue of policing, and support for it, in an interview by the Irish Times’s Frank Millar, as noted in May this year

“I think Sinn Féin do need to put themselves on the road – and I think they have started off warily down this road – to co-operating with the police. I’m not saying, ‘Join the policing board tomorrow’. But there is a commitment they have given, which I’ll expect them to honour, that when we’ve got royal assent for the Bill devolving policing and justice, they then need to take positive moves to call a conference.They’ve promised that and I’m sure that they will.”

That’s the assent for the Bill, not the actual transfer of powers? “No, until you’ve got institutions to devolve to, you can’t devolve.” And the timetable for that? “Well it’s due to get royal assent by the summer recess, by the end of July.”

Mr Hain says he can’t be certain of the timing of any Sinn Féin ardfheis, and declines to speculate as to whether the party might actually be ready to join the board and endorse the PSNI in time for a November deal. He also stresses: “There’s a radical difference between trying to solve problems and difficult issues like policing, which is what we’re doing, and using those difficult issues to erect a hurdle to power-sharing. . . I agree with what Dermot Ahern said in The Irish Times on Tuesday, that there’s a danger here of continually shifting the goalposts.”

Yet he is also confident: “Provided nobody’s playing games, then it’s in Sinn Fein’s interest – since their declared objective is to get into government with the DUP and the others – to build trust and remove an excuse from unionists and everybody, because we all want them to co-operate with policing. It’s in their interests to remove that excuse which could act as a final obstacle.“[added emphasis]

  • The completely unspoken assumption behind the assertion : “Support for the Police is fundamental in every society.” is that the police are worthy of support. In the Short Strand “siege” of 2001 the video camera footage released showed PSNI members on the loyalist side mere feet from loyalists hurling bottles, fireworks and stones, slingshotting missiles across the peace wall and they did absolutely nothing to intervene or prevent these criminal behaviours. Explain why this is a police service worthy of nationalist or republican support?

    Sinn Fein’s position has been that once the Patton report has been fully implemented then the PSNI will be eligible of support. The Patton report is a great plan for running a police service that serves the people and it’s official stated goals. When I heard Patton had been recruited I assumed, given his history, that it would be a stitch up job. Instead he produced a cracker of a report – I highly reccomend reading (or re-reading) it. It truly does get to the heart of the problems police forces around the world face. I’ve yet to read any rationale for the changes Mandelson made.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Indeed Robert.

    Or explain it to catholics in north Antrim, who, according to the PSNI, were the victims of family feuds last summer, and not loyalists intent on waging a sectarian campaign.

    Or to catholics in the south-west Antrim village of Stoneyford, who have known for a very long time that a reputed loyalist leader has been permitted to co-ordinate a campaign of intimidation against the local catholic community without fear of being arrested/charged by either the PSNI or their predecessors in the RUC.

    The Fr. Dennis Faul quote is worthless in a north of Ireland context. The RUC operated without the communal support of the vast majority of northern nationalists for 80 years. Did that make those nationalist communities “uncivilised?”

    Of course not. In an ideal society, the policing service- and the judiciary- would be above suspicion and worhty of the endorsement of all sections of a community.

    Alas, we are not that community. Pretending otherwise is simply pointless.

  • heck

    “Support for the Police is fundamental in every society.” I have drawn this analogy before and have not had a reasoned answer from “support the police” brigade on this web site.

    Should African Americans have had to support the racist local police in the southeastern states before they could be elected to serve in government? I think the answer in no and people should just ignore Hain’s echoing of unionist demands.’

    If he wants the nationalist community to support the PSNI then it is his responsibility to make them earn it. Keeping elected nationalist representatives out of government because they don’t support the PSNI is like keeping elected blacks out of government in the 60’s because they don’t support the Alabama state troopers.

  • Pete Baker

    Given the focus, in the previous comments, on one particular tree in the wood, I’ve added what Peter Hain had to say on the issue of policing, and support for it, in an interview by the Irish Times’s Frank Millar, as noted in May this year

  • Rory

    Denis Faul said it better, “Either there is law or no law. That is the basis of a civilised society”.

    I do not really want to go up against a man now dead and unable to speak but I think that a better mark of a civilised society would be that the law that is enforced is universally accepted by the citizenry to whom it applies and that the forces that apply that universally acceptable law
    do so with equanimity and act under strict accountability.

    I don’t feel too bad about that, I am sure in my heart and soul that Dennis Faul would agree.

    What do you think, Pete?

  • Greenflag

    2016 October

    Mr Peter Hain -British Prime Minister has started a new round of talks with the leaders of the DUP and SF parties in NI in an attempt to restart the NI devolution process postponed indefinitely a decade ago .

    When questioned by a reporter as to why he was now restarting a new round of NI talks Mr Hain replied that he had always enjoyed the continuous experience of deja vu during his time as Northern Ireland Secretary and that he was looking forward to another five years of the same . In an ever changing world it was always good to revisit a place where nothing has or will ever change. Mr Hain commented that he was not at all surprised that the DUP leade had not yet not exchanged a civil word to the leader of SF .

    Such men of ‘principle’ are hard to find anywhere on the planet said Mr Hain who then added that he was looking forward to another decade of talks about no talks and perhaps even an agreement which doesn’t agree before he too ends up on the long list of those British politicians who came , went and might as well never have bothered !

  • Pete Baker

    You appear to miss the background to the statement by Denis Faul, Rory.. and the basis of the frequent calls for suppport of the rule of law.

    It is the rule of law, where all citizens are equally amenable to that law, that is the basis of a civilised society.

    That law having been passed by democratically elected representatives etc. Natch.

    Or, as the Magna Carta monument puts it.. Freedom under law.

    BTW.. There is, I’d suspect, no such thing as “universally accepted law.”

  • Billy


    I agree.

    I mean no disrespect to the late Denis Faul but his comment is much too simplistsic. If having law was the oinly basis for qualifying as civilised then Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and the Southern states of America during segregation would all qualify as civilised.

    For the law to have meaning and respect in a civilised country – it must be legislated by a democratic elected body and enforced by a non-partisan police service drawn from the whole community and supported by the whole community.

    The police service must apply the law of the land without fear or favour.

    Before 1969 NI met neither of these qualifications. The PSNI is still far from perfect but it is getting there. It is essential that 50/50 recruitment is retained until the religious breakdown of the PSNI reflects that of the NI community.

    That is the only way to ensure it has the support of Nationalists as well as Unionists – any Catholic who lived through the B Specials, UDR and RUC years should accept nothing less.

  • Pete Baker


    No disrespect to you, but your response to Denis Faul’s comment is much too simplistic.

    To re-iterate the main point of the post [the wood]… Peter Hain’s comments, anyone?… anyone?