SF backs Guards, but with conditions…

There was a fascinating piece by Martin Kettle in the Guardian last weekend, about the degree to which citizens owe allegience to the state (complex, but well worth reading in with several local contexts in mind). It’s a serious question, that is rarely debated honestly in Northern Ireland, where political agendas of all types abound. It seems that Sinn Fein has belatedly backed An Garda Síochána’s battle against drugs and racketeering, but apparently retaining some interesting caveats.

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    As I see it, the main reason for the moves by PSF on the Gardai is to give them some cover in the run-up to the Irish General election.

    They know that their refusal to back policing in the North is going to be high on the agenda and they can’t risk being seen as opposing policing in the South. On that reading, the move on the Gardai is not necessarily good news for the process up here.

  • Yokel

    Cheery thought Urquhart. Thanks…

  • andy

    Off topic but is there any chance of a thread on this:

    basically its the report of the Oirechtas committee on collusion

  • Yokel


    Dont you think they are bit late on getting round to this conclusion?

    Conclusion between the forces of the state and every side of this conflict has been going on at some level for decades.

  • andy

    You’re right

    Still newsworthy though.

  • SF Blog Monitoring Committee

    Mick – could you urgently change the subject?

  • Pete Baker

    Interesting timing for Aengus O Snodaigh… given events in the Court of Criminal Appeal the other day

  • Mickhall


    A very interesting article by Kettle, hopefully he is back on form as he is a writer I respect, but his time in the USA seemed to have blighted his pen. Lord Bingham’s comments on the rule of law are very interesting and if you agree with them I am not sure one could claim the rule of law runs in the six counties.

    Perhaps all those who keep going on about the rule of law and critiquing those on the left along with republicans who refuse to jump when it is demanded of them, should ask themselves if what exists in the north is not the rule of law, but a form of law and order, which is something completely different.

    I might add there is no democratic accountability of the rule of law in the UK as a whole, for the simple reason the individual who is in charge of the law, (currently Lord Goldsmith) is as Bingham states “not susceptible to direct questioning in the elected chamber” and historically nor were any of his predecessors.

    So lets get this clear, Republicans are expected to take responsibility for a police force that administers the law which is totally outside the preserve of any democratic accountability. Surly to do so would not be defending democracy, but spreading excreta all over the very principle of democracy.

  • Rubicon

    From the Policing Board website:

    The Policing Board is an independent body made up of 19 members to ensure for all the people of Northern Ireland the delivery of an effective, efficient, accountable and impartial police service which will secure the confidence of the whole community.

    We were set up on 4 November 2001 by the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 – legislation designed to put the recommendations of the Patten Report on policing into practice.

    What specifically do SF intend to do with a devolved P&J portfolio (which they’ll not hold) that improves on the accountability of the PSNI?

  • Mickhall


    I have to tell you this is one rubicon many will not cross, for what use is taking responsibility for the PSNI when you have absolutely no control over operational matters. That is if senior officers of the PSNI having been instructed from London, [as they undoubtedly have in the past] to order their officers to break the law by acting in collusion with criminals, this committee will have no say in the matter, as it will be an operational issue for the chief constable. Indeed such things would be kept from this committee.

    To the poster who condemns me for continuously harping back to the police role in the UK miners strike, I would say this. The reason I do is because the English county police forces had something similar to what is be proposed in the north. i e locally elected politicians sat on police authorities. Naturally these authorities included many Labour Party politicians who supported the miners strike or liberals who opposed the undemocratic manner in which the strike was being policed.

    When they brought the matter up at their local police authority they were told it was none of there business, as it was an operational matter for the chief constable.

    In other words these committees are window dressing and no serious politician now bothers to sit on them in England. They are full of pompous old gits from all parties who think they have power where as in reality they have none, but they do get lunch once a month with the Chief Constable and the odd judge, where they spend their time carping about poachers and gypsies and bringing back the birch.[ I kid you not.]

    As I have already stated, the rule of law does not exist in NI/the north, all that exists is law and order. If anyone doubts this they should ask themselves how many spooks, army Intel officers, and members of the police have been brought before the courts for the crimes of collusion etc. Plus why the hunt for the killers of Robert McCartney was buried under a pile of paper work.


  • lib2016

    Those of us with long memories will remember a book called “Beating the Terrorist” by the Sunday Times Insight team which had an enviable reputation in the pre-Murdoch era. The book was about the torture which went on in Castlereagh and the way in which that torture was covered up.

    It described in detail the way in which a policy of differentiating between administrative and operational matters and political oversight translates to a recipe for all parties to deny responsibility for everything. Which would in the case of NI give MI5 permission to do whatever they like to whomever they like.

    Our friends across the water may like to emphasise that that’s the way they run their affairs by building Thames House for the secret government. We can and should do better.