Jim Allister has some very plain words on the kinds of policing tests he wants to see imposed before his party gives any committements on the devolution of policing and justice powers to Stormont:
– Encouragement to join the PSNI, which can be tested by seeing an upturn in Roman Catholic applications in future recruitment competitions, the next of which does not open until March.
– Publicly promoted direct co-operation with the police, demonstrated by a sustained increase in the flow of information about crime, of all types, from within nationalist communities, and including co-operation with the Historical Enquiries Team.
– An increased conviction rate, resulting not only from statements to the police but evidence being given in court, not just in high-profile cases, like the McCartney murder, but in all cases.
– A marked decrease in and end of association with organised crime in such areas as fuel smuggling and money laundering.
– Then, there is the important issue of the return of ill-gotten gains, highlighted by Dr Paisley MP as essential, both at St Andrews and in the News Letter on December 30 2006. Clearly, Sinn Fein has far to travel in this regard. Wholehearted support for the rule of law will see an end to Sinn Fein’s fatuous denial that the IRA was responsible for the Northern Bank robbery. You can’t be in support of the rule of law and the police and at the same time repudiate the intelligence findings of the police in order to excuse and accept “the word” of an illegal organisation.
– Ending association with an illegality is a key and defining issue. The IRA is an illegal organisation with military structures in place. No one can credibly be said to be supportive of the rule of law and supportive of an illegal organisation at one and the same time. Hence, the logic of disbandment of the IRA as a corollary to Sinn Fein acceptance of the rule of law. How could anyone be said to genuinely support the rule of law and at the same time support, endorse, justify, or be associated with an illegal “Army”, with an “Army Council” (It is less than two years since the Republic’s Justice Minister, Michael McDowell, publicly named Adams and McGuinness as members of the Army Council, and Bertie Ahern described Sinn Fein and the IRA as “both sides of the same coin”). So, the end of the IRA Army Council would seem an indispensable part of proof of support for the rule of law. The IMC’s next report will be watched with interest on this point.
– Critically, there is the pivotal issue of the warped republican view of criminality. Less than two years ago Mitchel McLaughlin declared on RTE that though the IRA murder of mother-of-10 Jean McConville was ” wrong”, it was not a “crime”. Evidently, such a perverted view of criminality would make a nonsense of support for the rule of law. So, a clear affirmation from Sinn Fein that any breach of the criminal law of Northern Ireland, by anyone at any time, is and was unequivocally a crime, is a pre-requisite to meaningful commitments to oppose criminality. We have yet to hear such a declaration.
– Finally, the daily actions of Sinn Fein leaders must match their words. Glorification of terrorist acts is wholly incompatible with support for the rule of law. Three days after Adams spoke in Dublin of Sinn Fein preparing to support the police, he was in Fermanagh glorifying two IRA terrorists who met their just desserts when they attacked a police station.
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