The Belfast Telegraph have an interesting piece from Brendan Duddy, the Derry businessman who was involved in the early negotiations between the British Government and the Republican leadership. He is also, since April 2006, a member of the Policing Board. He lays out why (outside and beyond the negotiating process) Sinn Fein are preparing to back the police.
The Ulster Catholic community has emerged after years of victimhood. Everywhere you go, from the church to the shopping centre, the nod has been given. The war is over. The days of the punishment beatings are gone. But still senior citizens are no longer safe in their houses. Anti-social behaviour has become endemic.
So why did it take so long? Why the Sinn Fein/republican agony of “Will we or won’t we support the PSNI and all that goes with that?” The answer is simple. Policing is a necessity for any democratic, civilised community and yet the Northern Irish Catholics have never fully given their allegiance to, as they saw it, the unionist police force.
So why now? Nice people have chosen to believe their own myths that it was only a hard core of Sinn Fein activists who would not accept a policing service. This was never true and that is why the Sinn Fein meeting in Dublin offers, for the first time in my lifetime, real hope for a better Ireland, north and south.
Adams didn’t mince his words. They are going in there, into the Policing Board, into the District Policing Partnerships. The Sinn Fein MLAs are taking the ministerial pledge of office and pledging to give their full co-operation to the PSNI, to the Garda in the South, and working in co-operation to make our streets safer and enable our senior citizens to live without fear of burglary or worse.
He finishes with two points that are rarely made. Firstly on the question of who suffered most:
The answer is the people of no property, no education and no comfortable job. Some 98% of all people convicted for murder and associated hideous crimes in the last 30 years were unemployed young men, loyalist and republican. There were few exceptions.
And an admission that Catholics can also be guilty of bigot-ry:
Living through the 50s, 60s and the early days of the Civil Rights and through the arrogance and stupidity of successive unionist governments, I was quite convinced that bigot-ry and sectarianism was an Ulster Protestant preserve. It came as a bitter enlightenment that we Catholic nationalists/republicans were equally capable of bigot-ry, sectarianism and murder.
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