Before: Today’s Newshound links to an Irish Democrat article by Father Joe McVeigh railing against the new MI5 building going up in Holywood. It’s a hot, strong article, claiming, the new base is “literally entrenching the intelligence agency’s position in Ireland”, is a “sinister development on Irish soil”, that “MI5 has shown nothing but contempt for democracy and for the Irish people throughout its history”. He writes, “By giving MI5 primacy in intelligence-gathering next year, the British are ensuring that those making the crucial security decisions in the north escape the transparency and equality requirements which apply to the PSNI.” He also states, “The old RUC became the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and so far it is under the direct control of the British government at Westminster.”
After:Here is his letter to The Irish News, printed last week.
The pain is worth the gain on north’s policing
FATHER Joe McVeigh
After attending a public meeting on policing in Ballyconnell and hearing the arguments of Gerry Adams and others, I am convinced that Sinn Fein is right in signing up to the new policing and justice arrangements in the six counties.
I understand this is difficult for some people but I believe the political and moral gain is worth the pain.
In the context of the St Andrews Declaration about powersharing and the timetable for the devolution of powers over policing and justice to the assembly, Sinn Fein is preparing to take responsibility for policing and justice in the north and is determined to make these institutions accountable.
Sinn Fein leaders have negotiated a clear path ahead for bringing about the ‘new beginning to policing’ promised in the Belfast Agreement.
The Patten Commission recommended how that might be. Many of us made it our business to ensure that Patten would make serious and radical proposals about policing in the six counties.
We did so because we felt that we had something to contribute. After all, the people who suffered at the hands of the RUC and MI5 were and still are the experts on policing.
The Patten proposals if fully implemented offer a new beginning.
Sinn Fein has, rightly in my view, till now refused to take part in the new policing boards.
However, having negotiated to wrest control of policing from the British and having secured assurances about the future role of MI5, they are now able to engage with policing.
As the O’Loan report shows we need accountable policing.
Never again can we have political policing.
Never again will the police service in the six counties be seen as the preserve of unionism nor can it be used to bolster unionism.
We cannot leave policing to the unionists and the SDLP.
By joining the policing boards Sinn Fein will be taking responsibility on behalf of the republican people in the six counties.
It seems logical at this stage in the political process to support the Sinn Fein leadership in taking this momentous step.
It always takes courage to move forward.
It is groundbreaking in historical terms when a community moves forward – united and clear about the ultimate goal – an inclusive Irish republic based on equality and respect for human rights.
It is in that context that I support the new approach to policing and justice.
FATHER Joe McVeigh