New policing era (literally) under fire?

It’s hard to see how the current disruptions (and there appear to be several) will help the current government meet its professed timetable (rather than a deadline) of May 8th for the devolution of policing and justice powers. A new campaign by dissidents targeting the PSNI (which Sinn Fein Ministers are pledged to uphold) hasn’t made things any easier. The cancellation of a key meeting that would have seen Sinn Fein councillors take their seats on the local DPP in Dungannon last night, suggesting that some members on the ground are having second thoughts about following the leadership’s official position of support. It’s worth noting that SDLP councillors have been living with stringent security measures ever since they first took up their seats more than five years ago. Des Wilson believes that devolution of ministerial oversight would do the trick, and make some of this resistance go away. Though the complications arising out of South Armagh (and to a lesser extent the Markets) will not be making the atmosphere between the two leading government partners all sweetness and light. It would seem that the very back end of this particular pantomime horse is breaking loose.

  • Pete Baker

    “we can demand a police whom we can control.”

    No. No. No. and No.

    That damned ‘control’ again.

    Accountable to elected representatives – Yes.

    Controlled by those representatives [i.e. political parties] – No.

    Anyway, Des Wilson can demand all he likes – the ability to deliver is elsewhere.

  • joeCanuck

    Agree totally, Pete.
    In his blog, Mick used the words “devolution of ministerial oversight”. Des Wilson didn’t mention oversight at all, just kept repeating “control”. I wonder if he is just being sloppy in his use of language or if he really believes that politicians should control the police.

  • Dewi

    “The cancellation of a key meeting that would have seen Sinn Fein councillors take their seats on the local DPP in Dungannon last night, suggesting that some members on the ground are having second thoughts about following the leadership’s official position of support.”

    Maybe absolutely direct security concerns rather than political volte face factor in cancellation ?

  • Mick Fealty

    Indeed Dewi. That’s one we’d need direct comment on to know for sure.

    The uncompleted promise of Ard Fheis motion is the obvious political hanging chad here. But it is also possible that local councillors in East Tyrone are aware of the kind of threat local SDLP representatives have been living under for five years, and would rather not go there themselves.

    Either way, there would appear to be a leadership vacuum involved.

  • lib2016

    It is also possible that the moon is made of green cheese, but highly unlikely. Sinn Fein councillors whatever their other faults are not, in my experience, the type to be easily cowed.

  • The Penguin

    lib2016

    For the first time ever, I totally agree with you.
    It’s nothing more than speculation bordering on invention to talk of the Shinner Cllrs. loosing their nerve (think of the spur that would be to the cavemen) or having qualms about party policy.

    In any event, SF would not have had the power to cancel the DPP meeting even if they had wanted to.

    The obvious conclusion, in light of lack of evidence of anything else, is that it was postponed because all cops were caught up in the days events.
    The DPP probably thought it inappropriate, anyway, seeing as a life, as it seemed at that time, was still hanging in the balance.

  • Pete Baker

    Penguin

    The cancelled meeting last night was the Dungannon Council meeting where SF had been due, over-due in fact, to nominate their members for the DPP.

  • Outstanding in my field

    It might even have been because the road in front of the council building was sealed off and so councillors couldn’t get into the building to do their business.

  • The Penguin

    Pete

    That is a minor point which is totally irrelevant to why the meeting was postponed, which is the issue under discussion.

    Do SF have the power to cancel council meetings? No they don’t.
    Even if they did, which they don’t, was the canellation because of a loss of nerve or a divergence from party policy on their part?

    There is no evidence at all to support either of those those theories.

    You know, I’m no friend of SF but let’s not get completely ludicrous in our speculation.

  • Pete Baker

    Penguin

    It was a point of information – in correction to your comment.

    Another point of information is that in several councils SF have repeatedly deferred their nominations to the local DPPs – however, I believe that the deadline for nominations is now upon them.

    As to the reasons behind the meeting being cancelled – no-one has come out to tell us why.

    But as I suggested last night – in the circumstances it would have been more appropriate, as in sending out a stronger message to the wider community, to have pressed ahead with the meeting and the nominations.

  • Pete Baker

    As for the speculation about SF Councillors’ views..

    It’s not all speculation..

  • Mick Fealty

    lib,

    Is that a vote for the ‘hanging chad’ theorum then?

  • The Penguin

    “But as I suggested last night – in the circumstances it would have been more appropriate, as in sending out a stronger message to the wider community, to have pressed ahead with the meeting and the nominations.”

    I agree entirely with that.

    “As for the speculation about SF Councillors’ views..”

    Well it would be daft not to acknowledge that some SF councillors are unhappy with the party’s position on policing.
    The one you highlight was in Fermanagh, which isn’t Dungannon.

    Even aside from that, Mick was speculating about Dungannon SF Councillors, en masse, shying away from the DPP because of fear, or opposition to party policy – a total leap in the dark, because there is absolutely nothing that points in that direction.

  • parci

    could this be the very backend of the pantomine horse between Baker and Fealty breaking loose?

  • Mick Fealty

    Very good Parci, one of your better ones… 😉

  • Aquifer

    Politics here has to be bigger than the last five eejits with a pistol. PSNI officers are being shot to get cheap publicity for a bunch of losers, so ignore them. If shot policemen disturbs you, give some money to a police benevolent fund, in any jurisdiction. There are pee brains with pistols in most of them.

  • Chris Donnelly

    But it is also possible that local councillors in East Tyrone are aware of the kind of threat local SDLP representatives have been living under for five years, and would rather not go there themselves.

    Mick
    To be blunt, utter nonsense. There is no other party in the six counties which has had its elected representatives targetted (killed and wounded) as frequently as Sinn Fein in the past 15 years.

    As Penguin has said, there is no evidence to support the proposition of a Dungannon ‘revolt’ by Sinn Fein councillors.

    A meeting was due to take place. A PSNI officer got shot nearby and, clearly, someone proposed cancelling the meeting. End of story.

  • Dewi

    Chris – there might have been a specific concern about the building’s security in this specific context ?

  • Mick Fealty

    Chris,

    Maybe so. Whichever way you cut it, the party’s DPP nominations were already in the profoundly late arrival category in Dungannon. Cancelling that decision again, especially in these heightened circumstances may be sending out signals that were never intended.

    If fear of moving offside locally is not a factor then, as Father Des’s article suggests, the continuing uncertainty over May 8th must be. Surely?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Pete,

    I think the comments from Des Wilson are indicative of the fact that there are still significant sections of the republican community who do not understand what policing is actually for, and how it needs to be held accountable. Mind you, the same people have a similarly tenacious grip on words like “democracy” and “equality” as well.

  • Forallofus

    Just heard on local radio that at last nights council meeting in Cookstown that the sdlp voted with sf to keep the unionists out of the chair on the dpp.Heard Ian Mccrea complaining about this but he would be advised to shut up as it was the dup,at St Andrews,who put sf on the board.