Unionist fury at Baggott’s interview

The Chief Constable Matt Baggott has managed to attract the ire of unionists. In an interview with the Belfast telegraph (not on line as yet) He says he would call on police forces in England, Wales or even the Republic, if necessary, to help in investigations and wants to see the PSNI and Garda working even more closely, particularly along the border, which he describes as merely an artificial line when it comes to policing. In addition he said that if he lived in a border area he “would probably be less hung-up on the sensitivities providing my family were being looked after.” Unsurprisingly this has resulted in a furious reaction from unionists:Keith Harbinson the TUV Vice Chairman stated: “The reality is that Mr Baggott doesn’t live in a border area. Perhaps if he did he would share the widespread resentment of Unionists in those areas at the fact that the Irish Republic was effectively a safe-haven for terrorists throughout the Troubles. The inability or reluctance of Garda officers to combat the IRA threat emanating from the south was what made those areas so dangerous over a thirty year period.” and accused Baggott of political meddling: “In a meeting with TUV a few weeks ago the Chief Constable attempted to argue that he was above politics. This, of course, ignored the fact that he had already gone on record as supporting the devolution of policing and justice powers to the failed, terrorist inclusive executive at Stormont. Now he has made a statement, which could easily have emanated from a Sinn Fein/IRA press release.”

The UUP’s Tom Elliot called his views arrogant: “I live in the border area – I have been brought up in the border area. I have seen how the police and members of the public have been constantly targeted by republicans. How therefore can he say that the border is artificial – in saying so he is playing into the dissidents hands.”
“For him to claim that we should be more concerned about the safety of our families is nonsense – of course that is what everyone wants. That should be the entitlement of everyone living within the United Kingdom – that is something the dissidents are trying to disrupt.”
“I understand that cross border cooperation is needed, but his idyllic theories of how ‘it would all be great’ if we could all work together show his ignorance and complete lack of understanding of Northern Ireland’s particular circumstances.”

Ian Paisley Junior stated that:“Commentary of a political nature is not appropriate for someone in such a sensitive post.” and promised to bring the matter up at the Policing Board.

Possibly Mr. Baggott will think a little more carefully about his comments before his next venture into media interviews. He might even try talking to members of the community in Fermanagh (he could use the mobile police station). Whatever his long term ambitions (even if they include a job back in GB) alienating large numbers of politicians within a few weeks of starting the job is hardly clever. In addition as he has already explained his enthusiasm for the devolution of policing and justice, this may not be the cleverest way of encouraging it and indeed if P&J is devolved antagonising his future political masters is not an especially clever idea. Unless of course he thinks that unionists might now try to get policing and justice devolved to help get rid of him????

  • IRIA

    Waahhhh! Wahhhh!

  • Prionsa Eoghann

    Sad sad bastards! Bigotry uber alles Pete?

  • Rolf Reindeer


    Grow Up. When you talk about unionists, to whom are you referring – Big Jim?

    I think most ordinary decent people are all for collabaoration between the security forces, as long as it results in the puruist of criminals (as per the very recent uncovering of a fuel depot in South Armagh).

    You guys cannot have it both ways.

    P.S You are also badly misguided. There has been cross border collaboration between the RUC/PSNI for the past forty years…and by that I mean Guards in Belfast and RUC/PSNI in Dundalk/Dublin.
    It was just done on the quiet, to keep you guys
    from getting hot under the collar!

  • iluvni

    What did he say during his interview to convince the panel that he was the right man for the job?
    From what I’ve heard of him so far, he is spectacularly unimpressive.

  • RepublicanStones

    You want him to break out the juggling balls iluvni?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Rolf, I think no-one is objecting to Police co-operation across the border, indeed most unionist would be looking more of it, if incidents like Garrison can be prevented, many remember in the past questionable cases where there seemed to be more co-operation with the Provos in border areas.
    I dont know what sorta waffle he was coming out with, but I’m hoping it was nothing more than half baked day dreaming, its prob about time he spend a week or so down in fermanagh and see if he spouts the same crap after.

  • terry_the_turdle

    There is a border? really? Seriously?

    The only border in Fermanagh is the one in Tom Elliots head, the larger partition marked SASH AND STUFF and the much smaller one marked REALITY. Stop whining you predictable idiot.

  • Driftwood

    I dont know what sorta waffle he was coming out with

    NIO waffle, carefully scripted for him. Healing cream to cover over that big SRR sore spot that SF needed to scratch.

    Expect lots more of it.

    Pretty sure the SRR are not too concerned about the border either.

  • Turgon,

    So, because the Gardai didn’t cooperate sufficiently with the RUC back in the bad old days, they shouldn’t be allowed to cooperate with the PSNI now?

  • P

    ‘He might even try talking to members of the community in Fermanagh’

    Statements like this are indicative of elements of unionism still longing for the ‘good old days’.

    Most Fermanagh people are nationalists (in its broadest sense); most of those are republicans. In many border areas in Fermanagh most people are republicans. Were Baggott to spend some time down there the message he would get from ‘the community’, loud and clear, is that the border is an artificial line, and not just ‘when it comes to policing.’

  • Mr Brightside

    I fail to see how such comments could result in a “furious reaction.”

    Don’t most people put the safety of their family before abstract political inclinations? Am I missing something?

  • Bemused

    Northern Unionism really is a ghastly, infantile affair. The sooner the stupid fuckers are dragged kicking and screaming into the 1990’s the better.

  • picador

    Is not Keith Harbinson from Dromore? Since when was that a border area?

  • joeCanuck

    Unionist Fury


    you don’t write the headlines for the Belfast Telly in your spare time perchance?

  • John East Belfast

    “particularly along the border, which he describes as merely an artificial line when it comes to policing”

    Have I missed something ?

    ie if the PSNI arrest somebody in Monaghan for a crime in NI and bring them before a court in Belfast would that arrest be legal and a trial could proceed ?

  • danielmoran

    bemused….msg 12. you’ve hit the nail where it hurts. how many times have seen in print or on tv/radio, headlines starting with …UNIONIST FURY AS….. they really are congenitally furious. all it takes to get their ire[ironic that word ire]up is to hear anything that might give satisfaction to nationalists. wee jeffrey pops up to say …’i’ll take no lectures from sinn fein/ira, they’re getting that one ready to return for the DUP election campaign. shows how desperate they are.

  • RepublicanStones

    JEB I think Baggott was referring to the ‘concept’ of policing, particularly policing an an all-Island basis and merely means that as regards co-operation between the two police forces on this Ireland the border is indeed merely an aritifical line.

  • aquifer

    The English don’t give a damn about the border. It would serve Unionists well if they noticed this at last and made it their business to get along with their near neighbours as the British wish. A return of instability here will damage two very fragile economies. In this corner of an interconnected economy patriotism is no longer a zero-sum game. Sectarian begrudgery is the luxury nobody can afford, self-pity the addiction better left untried. A sense of outrage in people who tried to reserve the full rights of British citizenship for one religious block and failed, just ends up looking weird and embarrassing. For British people. You have an evangelical chief constable, cheer up.

  • Sam Thompson

    Basically, a slip of the tongue from Baggott, and an overreaction from Tom Elliott, and(unelected in Fermanagh or elsewhere) Keith Harbinson. Nothing to get too concerned about. Funny though, that the language of some of the republican posters so far, betrays the very same bigotry that they accuse those unionists of. Perhaps a case for all concerned, of thinking before opening your mouth?

  • Comrade Stalin

    I do not think Baggott is a closet republican. Unfortunately he chose his words badly, and that’s not a good thing for a Chief Constable.

  • John East Belfast

    You dont come to NI and say the border is an artificial line on the map unless you are

    1. wanting to be controversial
    2. pretty ignorant

    neither one of those are useful qualities in a NI Chief Constable.

    Technically speaking he is talking complete rot of course as jusridiction will dictate the legitimacy of any legal case.

    Operationally he is also talking nonsense because to ensure the legality of any co-operation (which no right thinking person would object to) in the pursuit of criminals who would use the border either to escape justice or to further crime will require a real appreciation of the border.

    However what I would totally object to would be any member of the Garda enforcing any law (ROI or NI) in NI. I would assume the majority of ROI citisens would object to the PSNI operating similarly in the ROI.

  • RepublicanStones

    But JEB the border is artifical, its man-made. And in respect of Baggotts statement, I think the fact your getting your knickers in a twist over them rather than desrious of good policing, suggests you seem to think otherwise.

  • John East Belfast


    Every border is man made.

    There are two jurisdictions and two police forces accountable to two separate bodies.

    Co-operation of course but the technicalities and operational requirements mean any Chief Constable needs to know where the effing border is. It was a meaningless and inaccurate statement and in a NI context either a clumsy use of words or a numpty head uttering them – the jury is out on this guy’s abilities in my opinion.

  • Danny O’Connor

    “Unionists in a hissy fit because Baggott states the obvious”,and what is worse he is called after a Dublin street.

  • Nomad

    I’m sorry, but are you all nuts? The fact that even Turgan quotes:

    “Kieth Harbinson the TUV Vice Chairman stated: “The reality is that Mr Baggott doesn’t live in a border area. Perhaps if he did he would share the widespread resentment of Unionists in those areas at the fact that the Irish Republic was effectively a safe-haven for terrorists throughout the Troubles. ”

    Wouldn’t the point of this be to remove any safe havens?

    And, back on the real world, isn’t imaginary border just pointing out there is not a Chinese wall or Mexican border in place?

  • McGrath

    Its the word “Artifical” that grids on Unionists nerves because its also the best word to describe their relationship with the rest of the UK.

  • RepublicanStones

    Every border is man made.

    So what was with this nonsense…

    You dont come to NI and say the border is an artificial line on the map unless you are

    * A cartographer

    * A realist

    Honestly, the ‘you don’t come here’ thing seems like some bully in a denim halfcut shouting the odds.

    It was a meaningless and inaccurate statement

    Unfortunately for you John, it wasn’t.

  • John East Belfast


    There are land borders between sovereign states all over the world.

    I dont think you will find a country’s Chief Constable anywhere saying his jurisdiction has no boundaries.

    Even in the USA only the FBI have cross State legitimacy.

  • John East Belfast


    Border – political,legal and fiscal reality

    Artificial Border – imaginary nonsense – even in a policing context

  • plod


    Start here:


    When you get to GCSE level you might even get some respect from your officers. Not a lot, but some

  • from dictionary.com:

    artificial: –adjective
    1. made by human skill; produced by humans (opposed to natural)

  • Fabianus

    Danny O’Connor

    ““Unionists in a hissy fit because Baggott states the obvious”,and what is worse he is called after a Dublin street.”

    Sorry, I have to correct you there. The street is Dublin is Baggot with one “t”.

    The Chief Constable is actually named after a long stick of bread artificially invented by the French.

  • Danny O’Connor

    Ok , I didn’t really want to shock you too much by telling you that he is actually called Matt after that well known Dubliner Matt Talbot.

  • Fabianus


    ^ LOL!

    Isn’t he the one named after Talbot Street?

  • Danny O’Connor

    Fabianus Talbot Street,Baggot(1 t) street it is obviously all part of a Popish plot.

  • Fabianus


    “it is obviously all part of a Popish plot.”

    I know! I’ve already nailed several garlands of garlic to my lintels.

  • Danny O’Connor

    Matt Talbot was a reformed alcoholic who devoted his life to prayer and helping the poor,He is ,I believe being considered for canonisation,and as far as I know Talbot Street is named after him.

  • Fabianus


    Wiki seems to disagree with you, but hey WTF do they know? All put up by stoned students if you ask me.

    BTW what are you doing up so late? Do your constituents know you’re blethering on Slugger instead of fighting the good fight on their behalf? 😉

  • Fabianus


    Don’t answer that last question. I was just being silly. Actually I’m up so late looking for a scan of a Beano or Dandy comic (the Tiger at a pinch) dated June or July 1978. I don’t want to bid for a whole year of them on eBay because I only need the one.

    Shit, I just know Mick will have my goolies for galoshes* for kind of advertising that on this thread 😉

    *I watched the DVD of “In the Loop” earlier and am still hearing Malcolm Tucker’s voice in ma fuckin’ heed.

  • Danny O’Connor

    I cant seem to get to sleep,I got into a routine some time ago of sitting up very late,until I reckoned it was safe to go to sleep.I still fight the good fight,the quiet and solitude of the night gives me time to write letters,read papers in preparation for meetings and the most delightful of all (not) consultation documents etc.

  • Danny O’Connor

    You will get more intellectual stimulation from any of the above than you will on some of these threads.

  • Seymour Major

    Matt Baggott is a very experienced police officer but he is also an Englishman.

    I know exactly what he means when he talks about an artificial line. He means that there is no hiding place for the baddies on either side of the border. He was actually trying to make a statement about policing which would gain public confidence.

    Baggott should be advised to use local people to screen his public statements before they go out. Hopefully, he will learn that lesson.

    As to the Unionists who reacted negatively to his comments, they did not do enough thinking when considering the Chief constable’s remarks.

    In any event, it is also important that politicians restrain themselves from direct criticism of the chief constable. They should consider the morale of those who serve in the police force and the fact that they could be undermining the security situation when they do that?

  • dub

    For Turgon the word “community” means the Protestant community.

  • Tochais Si­oraí

    There are borders and there are borders – is it not a little significant that when you cross in and out of Fermanagh to and from the Republic the sign reflects most local opinion and says ‘Welcome to Fermanagh’ not ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland’ or ‘Welcome to the UK’ (either of which if erected would last about 5 minutes).

    As I said, there are borders and there are borders. Matt Baggott seems to be aware of this.

  • Seimi

    ‘I know! I’ve already nailed several garlands of garlic to my lintels.’ – Fabianus

    That’s gotta sting, Fabianus! 🙂

    ‘Shit, I just know Mick will have my goolies for galoshes’

    After you remove the garlic I presume! 🙂

    *Gets coat*

  • Trev

    Good to see that the Slugger tradition of pi**ing on unionist sensibilities continues.

    Have a good laugh, fill your boots, unionists have long understood that ‘respect’ is a word unknown to republicans; and anyway it’s fun to erode the majority communty’s confidence in the police. That can only work out well, can’t it?

    Whereas respect is quickly avoided the old standby of violence comes naturally to republicans, witness Tochais Siora’s happy endorsement of vandalism as an example.

    Anyway keep up the contempt, we’ll respond in kind when you start banging on about the Oirish language; begorrah!

  • eric

    The said Unionist politicians are pretty ignorant about the border areas in the Republic or they would realise how many people in the Republic hate the Provos and have long memories about how they “murdered our Gardai and robbed our banks”.

    Although politics has moved on, as yesterday’s customs raid shows there are legacy issues to do with paramiltarism and criminality in these areas and only PSNI/Garda co-operation will smash them.

    Yes, unionist politicians are infantile

  • Tochais Sioraͭ

    … when you cross in and out of Fermanagh to and from the Republic the sign reflects most local opinion and says ‘Welcome to Fermanagh’ not ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland’ or ‘Welcome to the UK’…

    And, if you wanted, on one (and only one, I think) road – that between Rossinver and Garrison – the sign could even correctly say ‘Welcome to Ulster’.

  • Barnshee

    The enthusiasm for “cross border co-operation” will collapse as soon as the ahem “reconnaissance”
    chaps nail somebody within the ROI.
    Wait for the squeals about sovereignty from the roof tops

  • JohnRoss

    What annoys them most is both the truth of the statement and the insinuations that lead on from what the chief constable said. Not only is it impossible to police effectively on a 2 state island the size of Ireland but it is impossible to effectively run any other enterprise.

    I have often herd many unionists on this site comparing themselves with delusions of Grandeur to the USA and the south as Mexico however the simple fact is that in Northern Ireland 55% of it’s geographical area is within 15 miles of the border. No business in this area can reach it’s potential without a cross border outlook.

  • Laughing (Tory) Unionist

    Hey, I’m loving the ability of our latest PC Plod to shoot his mouth off in whatever direction the NIO tells him to, and in whichever direction he thinks will best take him back to the Met as Commissioner. Unionists should simply file away for future these hugely politicised effusions, and, natch the reaction to them. So when next a Chief Constable says something archly political, and Republicans don’t like it, we’ll cheeringly remind them that they’ve already, long ago sold the pass on senior police officers entering the political arena. This whole rope-a-dope strategy with Republicans may well have something to be said for it after all!

  • Lionel Hutz

    Do Unionist ever start to worry about the fact that any public figure from Great Britain who has any influence on Northern Ireland affairs invariably pisses them off? Chief Constables, Secretaries of States, even Prime Ministers. They are criticised constantly by Unionists what they perceive as almost republic attitudes.

    It may be that most englishmen see the border as artificial. I’m sure most Europeans and America. All Irish do. Only a milllion or so people from Belfast don’t, and that’s because they’ve never seen it. It could just easily be the Bann.

    Unionist insensibilities blind them to the fact that Northern Ireland will benefit greatly from cooperation in all areas from policing to infrastructure. They’re just worried that if ROI change their road markings, people might forget the border exists

  • Davros

    Ive always thought there would be money to be made by painting a line across the road in Newry. Have on bored PSNI guy in a shed sitting opposite bored Guarda. Tourists would love it.

  • Driftwood

    Never once heard a GOC or Brigadier here be so blatantly partisan. The MoD know the value of remaining neutral on such issues.

  • Fabianus

    Lionel H

    “They’re just worried that if ROI change their road markings, people might forget the border exists”

    In point of fact it’s NI that’s out of step in that respect, owing to a typical British contrariness. The contrariness that has us still using miles and ££s.

    Here’s Wiki on the European E01 network:

    The European route E 01 is a series of roads in Europe, part of the United Nations International E-road network, running from Larne, Northern Ireland to Seville, Spain. There is a sea crossing between Rosslare Harbour, in Ireland, and A Coruña, but no ferry service. The road also passes through Portugal – past the city of Porto, through the capital, Lisbon, and then south to the Algarve, passing Faro before reaching the Spanish border west of Huelva.

    When it hits our shores it magically transforms into the MI. When it hits NI those kilometres become miles. Madness.

  • Fabianus:

    True, but the RoI is the only country in Europe to use US-style yellow-diamond signs, the presence or absence of which is the most obvious sign you’ve crossed the border. 😉

  • Panic, These Ones Likes It Up Em.

    Unionist Ire is bordering on the ridiculous.

  • Bing

    The UK land border is not the only line Baggott seems to ignore. His organisation falls well short of the line in effective policing, the provision of a visible presence on the streets and the protection of society’s most vulnerable.

    Perhaps the fence line surrounding police HQ is Baggott’s border. Things should be pretty safe inside; although I’m not sure I’d even have the confidence to walk there at night.

  • charlotte

    any chance of a ‘welcome to northern ireland’ sign erected on the main dublin to belfast motorway ?

  • Seimi

    What about a bi-lingual sign? Fáilte go Tuaisceart na hÉireann?

  • Tuaisceart na hEireann, or Tuaisceart Eireann? 😉

  • Seimi

    He he 🙂 Ok then – Fáilte go Tuaisceart Éireann

    feckin’ pedantic mumblegrumble… 🙂

  • bangordub

    Unbelievable but highly entertaining !
    Poor old Matt gets it in the neck for stating the obvious……………

  • Fabianus


    A Dublin friend of mine calls it Douchebag na Eireann. I never know if he’s insulting me or somebody else….

  • Fabianus

    na hÉireann….

  • 1/07/90

    “What about a bi-lingual sign? Fáilte go Tuaisceart na hÉireann? ”

    Hoots mon a cribbins dinnae fuget Olster-Scods.

  • Seimi

    Fair Fa Ye tae Norn Iron? 🙂

    Fabianus, a Dubliner calling it Douchebag na hÉireann? He’s insulting himself.

  • Fabianus

    I resent this! What happened to inclusivity?

    مرحبا بكم في ايرلندا الشمالية

  • Fabianus


    No, he’s referring to NI. He doesn’t have much of an opinion of the place, apart from the prices Sainsbury charge him for his alcohol fix.

  • Seimi

    Inclusivity has been excluded. Be told! 😉

  • Seimi

    Apart from his visits to Sainsburys, has he actually spent any time here?

  • Fabianus


    He’s spent a lot of time here, but he doesn’t remember much of it.

    (This may have some connection with Sainsbury’s.)