Duddy on why Catholics are willing to back the PSNI…

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.

  • fair_deal

    Interesting piece

  • Yokel

    Nationalists/Republicans could possibly be bigots?

    Oh come on Duddy, I think 30 years of trouble has proven that just couldnt be the case surely.

    The idea that Nationalists/Republicans have ever shouted sectarian slogans, intimidated, threw bricks, beat or maybe even shot or blew Unionists/Prods because they were just Prods/Unionists is a nonsense.

    Never happened. Sectarianism was a one way street…..

  • Yokel

    The words I was looking for were ‘blew up’.

    Innuendo and comedy value from original post welcome……….

  • Aaron McDaid

    Some nationalists and republicans are very well aware that other nationalists and republicans are/were sectarian, and are/were thoroughly disgusted by it.

    Both sectarianism and anti-sectarianism (and turning a blind eye to sectarianism) ran throughout every group in NI.

  • susan

    Duddy plainly explains the evolution of his own personal views of policing, his community, and the best way forward for all from his initial police encounter of getting clobbered on the head by a police baton in 1952 for standing next to a nationalist politician to taking his place on the Policing Board as a nationalist nearly fifty five years later.

    His condemnation of the human costs of dithering on further couldn’t be less sectarian. Likewise his exhaustion with politicians from all sides who offer only “the skill and eloquence to chop down and abort every hope of a better future.”

    Well worth reading in its entirety. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

  • lib2016

    As a republican who always opposed the physical force option largely because of it’s cost to the nationalist community I can only say that I find myself in agreement with all of this article.

    Sadly he seems to accept, as I do, that what happened became inevitable very quickly. Let’s hope that we do a better job this time around.

  • Aaron McDaid

    Duddy says: “leaders who could only see one way forward – victory, and had the skill and eloquence to chop down and abort every hope of a better future.”

    He’s implying that the only way to be non-sectarian is to have no position on the constitutional question. But that’s not fair. Ghandi was determined to keep India united but it wasn’t because he was sectarian against Muslims. Whether or not our current leaders are comparable to Ghandi is left as an exercise to the reader, but my point is that it isn’t sectarian to make constitutional issues a priority.

    I would also like to add that even supporting violence isn’t necessarily sectarian. A pacifist can say all violence is evil, but nobody can say all violence is sectarian.

  • susan

    But Duddy is NOT implying that the only way to be non-sectarian is not to have a position on the constitutional question. He is saying that when ONLY the constitutional question is considered, at the sacrifice of any and all workable compromises to better the everyday lives of northerners, there is a high human cost, and a cost in human lives. Furthermore, he’s saying that cost is putting a vastly disproportionate burden on “the people of no property, no education and no comfortable job,” be they republican or loyalist.

  • Aaron McDaid

    There was a lot of strife, death and oppression before any of the current crop of politicians were born. So they can’t be blamed for past problems. They could of course be blamed for not trying to stop it today, but you must remember many people genuinely believe that some sort of force (police, for example) is required to create genuine peace (only a 100% pacifist could argue against that with any conviction, and there are very few of those anywhere in the world).

    Those politicians for whom the constitutional status is paramount are not necessarily putting it to the fore at the expense of the day-to-day issues. If anything, they might believe that the only way to sort out the day to day issues is via the constitutional question. One might decide that the ‘other side’ seem to just want to form a sectarian state, and one might be convinced that it’s vital to stop/change that. It’s just a shame that the non-sectarian people of all persuasions didn’t get the upper hand.

    So a person might decide that the best way to sort out the issues such as peace and harmony and jobs et cetera for the benefit of all is by putting the constitutional question at the top. Again, I’m not arguing that the current politicians fit the bill (nor am I denying it), but we shouldn’t deny ourselves such politicians in the future.

  • Harry

    After 30 years of a mostly wrong-headed military strategy the provos are now telling us their volte-face is directed by enlightened strategic thinking, just as they would have us believe their previous behaviour was.

    The truth is that they have gone from one extreme to the other and are similarly wrong-headed now as they were then. They should remain firm on the constitutional question today just as they should have done so with less violence in the past. They should retain their arms today for all nationalists in northern ireland without using them just as they should have not used them in the way and to the extent they did in the past. Why should we disarm when everyone else is armed to the teeth – are we inherently criminal or something? It is the nationalists after all who are the most compromised group in Ireland – they live under a government they don’t call their own; they are policed by a force they don’t identify with and which is under the ultimate guidance of british intelligence services and political control; they are divided from their nation through the threat of violence; they are required to express themselves in demonstrably harmless terms even while the unionists, barely more than half the population, frequently speak in an aggressive and threatening manner and while british soldiers still patrol northern ireland.

    And yet the likes of Duddy at the end of all that believe he must engage in some weak-kneed mea culpa as if throwing such shapes will ingratiate him to his oppostion and make those who have power over him not be so bad to him.

    Why should we believe or even listen to the waffling of a man who didn’t have the wit to understand when he was younger what should have been obvious if he had had a less parochial mind? Why should we listen to someone lecture us about the constituional issue whose views on such things can be changed by a stronger opposition, by the inevitibility of age and by the call of slippers and an easy life?

    Was it all for a nice comfortable middle-class life after all? And what of the psychological damage to our nation and to our politics of submitting to a form of self-expression that demands, even into the 21st century, a mea culpa from the Irish majority on this island for the fact that they are in fact the majority?

    There are many ways to compromise and be sensible. Self-flagellation and submission against your own psychological and political interests are not the ways one should choose.

  • susan

    “There are many ways to compromise and be sensible.”– Harry

    Harry, can you spell a few of them out for me?

  • Harry

    Not if you have nothing more to contribute than that.

  • susan

    It was an honest question, Harry.

  • Leslie

    Duddy must have read the cult book Sohne und Weltmacht:Terror im Aufsteig und Fall. Orell Fussli verlag paperback 24 euros, by Gunnar Heinsohn.2006.

    Heinsohn is a social scientist and genocide researcher at Bremen University. The theory is that when 15 to 30 year olds make up more than 30 percent of the population, violence is often imminent. The “causes” can be immaterial. There are 67 countries in the world with such “youth bulges” now and 60 of them are undergoing some kind of civil war or mass killing.