“They are working in their communities on the streets..”

The BBC’s chosen headline – IRA will not police areas: Adams – doesn’t seem to be an actual quote from the Sinn Féin leader who was, apparently, “speaking to party members ahead of a meeting with Security Minister Paul Goggins”. UTV, however, have some more detail

“The IRA made its position very clear when it instructed its volunteers to assist the development of purely political and democratic programmes through exclusively peaceful means and this is what activists who were in the IRA are now doing.

“They are active in Sinn Fein supporting and developing our strategies and actions. They are working in their communities on the streets, day in and day out, and they are dealing with the PSNI in an effort to make it politically non partisan, and accountable to the public whom it serves.”

Whether that “on the streets” activity includes the “volunteers patrolling” Belfast neighbourhoods previously noted isn’t clear.

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  • Norton

    It sounds to me like Bap McGreevy did volunteer to patrol the street to an extent and ended up dead because of it.
    We presume that these volunteers would be constrained by the law. Taking that as a presumption, what can be the outcome when a group of ten volunteers are met with a group of ten local hoods, perhaps bearing clubs and knuckledusters? What sanction do the volunteers have within the law other than to contact the local police and if that is the case, what could be the point of them?

  • Damian O’Loan

    A few points to note on this.

    Firstly, though there has been criticism of the continued attention on this issue, it is a good example of what is missing from the mainstream media coverage. Each step on the way to restorative justice being fully implemented and funded is being carefully placed in that context here, not as individual comments on policing issues.

    The clearest actual quote is contained in the UTV report:

    “After the brutal murders of Harry Holland and Bap McGreevy I heard some people say that they want the IRA back to deal with anti-social behaviour and criminality.

    “Well, let`s get real. That`s not going to happen.”

    The next part, which you quote, makes clear that “they are working in their communities.” It is right to state that this refers to certain community workers too. To note that others were involved with intimidation in Ballymurphy. And to note that distinguishing between individuals’ adherences of orgqnisations, augmented by the former career Adams refers to, could be difficult for some.

    A sceptic could question if having a relationship with the PSNI meant making available information about every detail of every caseload and activity. This is what ought to be required of any branch of the state justice system.

    It is significant too that the BBC report said that:

    “these days CRJ deals with everything from neighbour disputes and anti-social behaviour to domestic violence and more serious crimes.”


    while the NIO protocol states:

    “Community restorative justice schemes can have a role to play in dealing with the types of low-level crime that most commonly concern local communities.

    [Community schemes should:]

    receive referrals from a statutory criminal justice agency, rather than from within
    the community, with the police being informed of all such referrals.

    If a community-based scheme becomes aware of an offence or an offender, it will provide directly and promptly to a dedicated police officer the
    details it has about the offence, the offender and the victim, including such categories of information as the PSNI may indicate it requires to consider the reported offence or undertake further investigations. It should indicate in broad terms how it would plan to deal with the offence and offender if these were referred to it.”

    and further,

    “On receiving a report from the police, the PPS will consider the evidence and information provided and inform police promptly of the decision reached. The police will inform the scheme of that decision. Where the PPS judges it appropriate to refer a case to the scheme, the latter may proceed to handle the case. Where the PPS does not decide to refer the case, the scheme
    will take no further action with regard to the disposal of the case”

    There is much more to come on this issue, presumably quite soon, so perhaps those in disagreement on the point at hand could give the blogger a break, and appreciate the detailed account of how media are used to prepare the public for a major announcement. This is one that could have a lasting debilitating effect on republican and loyalist areas. And yet one that offers much with a few careful amendments to principal, protocol and practise. But what agendas might that conflict with?

  • Damian O’Loan

    principle, rather.