Making the argument for devolution of policing…

Despite appearances to the contrary, there are some consonances between Brian Feeney’s column on policing and the words of the Chief Constable (subs needed) after his meeting with Gerry Adams yesterday.Gerry Moriarty in the Irish Times:

Sir Hugh said Sinn Féin had a right to hold him to account on policing. He said the discussions yesterday were “testing”, adding, “I think that’s a good thing. I don’t want polite conversations. I want to be pushed. I need to push my organisation. We have a job to do which is to convince the whole community that we are capable of protecting them. And these conversations help that.”

But Feeney goes much, much further (than Sinn Fein even). In effect, he argues that since policing in Northern was traditionally run by and for unionists, that a local ministry is essential, and furthermore it should be run by a nationalist minister:

Policing in the north was created by and for unionists. Policing always belonged to unionists because they believed the very existence of their northern state depended on a police force created to defend it.

Nationalists knew that the RUC would treat any nationalist protest like an insurrection and would attack nationalist communities at the drop of a hat as they did on many occasions with the help of the B Specials and later the RUC Reserve. OK. That’s over.

Now, in order to ensure all that can never happen again, nationalists have to run a ministry in the north which is in charge of policing and justice. That’s why Ian Og will not be the minister for police and justice. It’s quite elementary.

If nationalists are to share in running the northern state, they have to participate in running the police so that they are seen to be their police and not just a re-structured unionist police.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

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