“with influence in the community”

The statement reported by the BBC from Chief Superintendent Gary White about trouble – ie violent attacks – over the weekend at ‘interface areas’ in North Belfast remided me of an old post were I noted the “ubiquitous community label”.. And as Newton Emerson argued then

Because community implies grassroots legitimacy it is an ideal disguise for such top-down exercises in social control. Being so deliberately ill-defined it is also a tricky disguise to unmask. But unmask it we must if we are not to be told who we are, what we are, how to think and where to think it by everyone anxious to group us under their own agendas. A fair society, as St Augustine observed, must comprise one community of law.

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  • Comrade Stalin

    Newton argued:

    Then there is the small matter of the 9,135 Newcastle residents out of an adult population of 11,446 who did not vote for Sinn Féin at the last election. Presumably these people would prefer to see crime dealt with via the non-republican method of policing, prosecutions, courts and convictions. Presumably, also, a number of these people live in the Burrendale estate. Are they part of the community?

    I have personally had to deal with some low level anti-social behaviour via a bunch of kids in the area lately. The police were sympathetic to the problems, and (after the issues continued for several weeks) launched an action and arrested several of the protagonists. However, their position is that problems like this cannot be solved permanently through police action, and need to be solved at the community level. In the local DEA, anti-social behaviour or kids causing a nuisance (with related issues of criminal damage) is the single biggest complaint reported by people living in the area, being the source of something like 45% of all of the complaints that the police receive.

    I have heard stories similar to this throughout the UK. If there’s a crowd of kids hanging around in a housing estate breaking windows or damaging cars, the police won’t move in to deal with it, using the excuse that this is a “society problem”.

    Sinn Fein should not get off the hook for apparently advocating structures outside of the normal forces of law and order to try to deal with their problems. However, changing the police response to this type of incident isn’t likely to be a matter of what Sinn Fein believe; it seems to be standard Home Office practice for the entire UK which the PSNI seem to largely follow quite closely. I actually consider it to be a relatively significant threat to SF’s apparent policy on getting people to support the police over domestic crime and anti-social behaviour; the chances are that if there are kids harrassing an elderly person, the police won’t do anything about it and will try to blame it on society.

  • heck

    “A fair society, as St Augustine observed, must comprise one community of law.”

    I’m not sure I agree with this -a society with a benign dictator could be fair but it would not be “a community of law”. I hate to repeat this but the idea of “the rule of law” in not “fairness” or “policing”. It is to constrain the state and to protect the citizen from the arbitary excerise of state power.

    You can have “policing” and “fairness” without “law”. Maybe I am a pedant but this is a point a lot of people on slugger don’t seem to agree with.

  • SuperSoupy


    While not a great fan of religious philosophy, I’ll Newton’s poor version of an Augustine quote and raise you the First Precept of Law from Aquinas.

    Those with community influence seeking to do good acted in line with Catholic/Christian morality/teachings.

  • SuperSoupy

    Should read ‘I’ll see Newton’s poor…’

    (I need coffee)

  • Comrade Stalin

    Those with community influence

    It is a good question though. How do you get community influence ? Without brandishing a baseball bat with a few nails in the end.