So the Policing Board eh? Not exactly a paragon of the protestant (or even Catholic) work ethic, yet it exploded into life last night with even the normally mild mannered Chief Constable telling his interlocutors:
“Can I caution the member that under the code of conduct that he does not have the right to question the integrity of the members of the command team or myself.”
Erm, now I know these guys have been conspicuously missing in action up to now Matt, but, erm, I think they do have the right to question you to within an inch of your professional life. The fact they’ve not been doing that up to does not make it a breach of conduct.
So, what brought on the storm? It was this unambiguous statement:
What Baggott is referring to here is that now famous briefing from ACC Drew Harris. Now, before we look at the detail, it’s worth noting that this appears to be the only post-Operation Rapid briefing the Policing Board got on the matter. As such the CC is putting a lot of weight on just one meeting.
Aside from observing just how poor the Policing Board has been generally in doing its job of putting the CC through his paces, it is also clear that the 2010 briefing was a less than complete piece of work, if that is ACC Harris ever intended to appraise them to the actual facts of the matter.
The process described is the same one that was in place before the failed NI Offences Bill collapsed after an under pressure Sinn Fein withdrew its support from victims groups when the SDLP made it apparent this would entail a general amnesty.
None of the critical changes put in place from July 2007 were alluded to.
There’s no reference to:
- Operation Rapid (a PSNI operation) or its start dates;
- a description of the mechanisms used (ie, the use of a single political party as the ‘post office’ for the distribution and delivery of letters);
- or the considerable progress in terms of just how many OTRs were now not OTRs.
One other point worth making (which is a reflection perhaps of just how lax matters are in the Policing Board), is the presence and participation of Gerry Kelly, a man for whom the words ‘conflict of interest’ clearly have no meaning:
“To sit here and talk, simply because you have never heard the word ‘rapid’, that you didn’t get any information is utter nonsense.
“There was information given. You may dislike the amount of information that was given but, then be honest enough to say that.”
I’d say Mr Craig has detected a long since dead rat in the ‘clean’ laundry, and he’s not too pleased about it.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty