Not a great week for the police…

police, cop, police uniforms

The Sarah Everard murder is the stuff of nightmares. A serving police officer, Wayne Couzens showed a warrant card and used handcuffs as he kidnapped Ms Everard before her rape and murder. Thankfully he was caught fairly quickly and he will spend the rest of his days behind bars. But the Met has a lot to do to restore public confidence in the police, especially amongst women. If you have not watched it yet the BBC documentary Bent Coppers: Crossing …

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The uneasy relationship between unionists and the RIC…

Dr Adrian Grant is a Lecturer in Policy at UU Opinion: the complexity of events in Ireland a century ago does not lend itself to generalised statements about unionist history The extent of the recent controversy around the proposed state commemoration of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and the Dublin Metropolitan Police was largely unexpected. Some went so far as to say it contributed to Fine Gael’s poor showing in the February general election. Much has been written about this …

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‘Politicians will argue, they will fight over it and they will come up with reasons for not dealing with the past’

It was hoped that the Patten reforms would herald a new start for policing in Northern Ireland, but, argues Denis Bradley, the PSNI remains burdened with its legacy from the old RUC. Denis is a former vice-chair of the Northern Ireland Policing Board and co-chair of the Consultative Group on the Past. He was talking in the latest Forward Together podcast from the Holywell Trust. “In the setting-up of the PSNI, the new service inherited, carried with it, the deeds …

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In praise of Citizens’ Assemblies – Peter Sheridan believes they can provide solutions to some of Northern Ireland’s most intractable problems

Citizens’ assemblies should be widely used to address the problems faced by communities across Northern Ireland, argues Peter Sheridan, the chief executive of Co-operation Ireland. He was interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast. “It works in Canada, it works in Iceland: there are examples all around the world.”  Speaking before the murder of Lyra McKee, Peter continues: “You pick an area and pick a problem, you randomly select a group of people from the electoral register and depending on …

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That day in 1983 when they bombed Andersonstown RUC Station…

Our Primary 7 classroom shook silently for a second before the noise reached our ears. When it did, it was a low thud followed by a deafening grumble. We all knew what it was; we’d heard many explosions before. After the blast I turned towards the window of the classroom which looked out onto the Glen Road. Someone shouted, ‘That’ll be the barracks again.’ The Andersonstown RUC Station, known locally as ‘the barracks’ would become one of the most bombed …

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“Terrorism’s true face has been masked at the expense of a fine police force…”

Interesting and provocative piece from William Matchett, who’s recent book on the RUC has been getting rave reviews, at least on the Unionist side of the fence. He doesn’t like to pull his punches: The Troubles were due to a failure in politics, not a failure in security. No nationalist, or unionist, party is blameless. Neither London nor Dublin comes out of it well. Of Hume’s SDLP, Gerry Fitt complained that it got too close to the Provisionals. Conscious of …

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We missed out on Cressida Dick but the links between the NI police and the Met are strong

Congratulations to Cressida Dick who has overcome the pain and controversy of being the  Gold commander in the operation which led to the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005, to become the first woman Commissioner of the Met.  The Policing Board  here passed  her over for Chief Constable in 2014, preferring George Hamilton as  the first local man to head up the PSNI. Gender therefore isn’t everything, although her application suggested that the PSNI job could still …

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Unruly politicians disrupt Assembly chamber; police remove 18 members including Ian & Eileen Paisley #20yearrule

EIGHTEEN MEMBERS were removed from the Assembly Chamber at the behest of the Speaker after anti-Sunningdale members refused to move from the Executive’s front benches and disrupted proceedings. A 1974 letter describing events from the Sergeant-at-Arms to the Clerk of the Assembly has now been released.

Review – Green and Blue – a thoughtful and respectful dramatisation of border policing

GREEN AND BLUE is a thoughtful and respectful dramatisation of oral history, illuminating life of officers and their families. While there are many moments of laughter throughout, it’s not all levity: the performance doesn’t shy away from the deadly aspects of Troubles policing, and the mounting personal trauma of policing terrorism and being terrorised, of shooting being shot at.

21 flavours of ice-cream. The murder of Constable John Larmour…

I came across this video browsing Brian John Spencers Youtube channel. Here is some background to the story from the Irish News and the Belfast Telegraph: Constable John Larmour was off-duty and helping out at his brother’s ice-cream parlour in south Belfast when he was shot dead by the IRA in 1988. Two men entered, unmasked, ordered ice cream, and then one of them shot him as he turned his back on him. Constable Larmour’s son Gavin, who was just 13 …

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‘Collusion’ was RUC strategy, not RUC failing: #Loughinisland

State collusion was a ‘significant feature’ in a loyalist gun attack in Loughinisland in June 1994, according to the latest report published today by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. You can read some commentary over at The Detail here, while the publication of the full report is awaited (it is now published here). The timeline of the Loughinisland investigation should be crushingly familiar at this stage. First there was a non-existent RUC investigation, then a flawed report by the Police …

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#Baggott: PSNI should *no longer* be accountable

Matt Baggott is pretty much leaving the PSNI in the same way as he joined in 2009. At that time, he was being pressed by the Coroner John Leckey to release files on shoot-to-kill cases from 1982 so that inquests could be held. His predecessor, Hugh Orde had been ignoring a similar request since 2007. At the time, the PSNI released a statement saying: The PSNI wishes to re-emphasise its willingness to co-operate fully with the coroner and continues to …

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NI Police Ombudsman: “It’s very easy to raise allegations – I think the important thing is whether there is any evidence behind it”

Having investigated a complaint from the Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams – following newspapers reports in 2006 which alleged that members of the RUC knew of a 1984 UDA gun attack on Adams in advance, or were themselves involved – the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman, Michael Maguire, has published his conclusions. Dr Maguire has said he has found no evidence that police knew of, or were involved in away way, in the attack on Mr Adams: “We have talked to all the people involved in the events …

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Robert Porter, a humane if luckless minister of home affairs

Sir Robert Porter, known  to all as  “Beezer” who has died aged 90 gave the lie to the image of a jack booted Unionist minister at the beginning of the Troubles. He was indeed minister of home affairs in 1969 when demonstrations gave way to riot and finally to the events of August 1969 when the Army took over control of the streets after days of rioting in Derry and Belfast culminating in the burning of Bombay St. He was …

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Smithwick: “the evidence keeps pointing back to the desire of the IRA to acquire information as to how the British Security Services had gotten advance warning of the IRA ambush on Loughgall Police Station…”

As the findings of the Smithwick Tribunal report [RTÉ-hosted 22mb pdf] continue to be digested, it’s worth recalling the reported concerns of “members of the PIRA” in May last year. The Smithwick Tribunal is becoming a “significant issue” among republicans who are concerned it is uncovering information on past murders, the tribunal has been told. According to a précis of intelligence information gleaned by the PSNI within the last year, and aired at the tribunal this morning, “members of the PIRA are …

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#Lethal Allies: this is not collusion.

This is much worse. The publication of Ann Cadwalladers Lethal Allies last month by Mercier Press was always going to have a relatively predictable reception. In many ways, nationalists and republicans have largely accepted that there was participation by members of the security forces in providing intelligence, weapons and targeting information to loyalist/unionist paramilitary groups from the late-1960s onwards. In some cases, it was even clear that either officially or unofficially, security force members and agents being run by the security services directly …

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The Haass agenda on the past. The release of documents must include MI5’s and others in the secret state

The remarks by Teresa Villiers on dealing with the past will surprise no one. They serve as a reminder of who is ultimately in charge, despite bashfully standing on the sidelines.  The era of public inquiries is over. For good or ill there will be no public inquiry into Finucane, the “Ballymurphy massacre” or any other terrible incident with major question marks hanging over it.  Since Savile, the limitations of inquiries have been demonstrated at a cost of another hundred million pounds. …

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More on the trend of reconciliation in the decade of commemoration

  Stephen Collins writes in the Irish Times:   So far the decade of commemoration for the great events spanning the 1912 to 1922 period that led to Irish independence has been marked in a similar spirit or reconciliation and compromise. The tens of thousands of Irish men who fought in the first World War have finally received due recognition and the State has even given formal recognition to the Ulster Volunteers, whose entire purpose was to block independence. However, …

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#Finucane: this report is a sham, this report is a whitewash

So now we’ve had the publication of the latest report into the killing of Pat Finuance in 1989 courtsey of Rt Hon Desmond de Silva QC (full text here). The surprise that David Cameron articulated in the Commons today, much like with Saville, is merely the formal admission of what has long been accepted by most other people. Pat’s widow Geraldine made a statement on behalf of the Finucane family today, which can be viewed here. The Finucanes are critical of the reports …

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… to prosecute cases if the evidence emerges …

The Detail has an interesting piece to set alongside the DPP’s comments regarding confronting the past. It concerns the RUC and HET investigations into the killings such as the attack on Sean Grahams on the Ormeau Road which involved a Browning that was handed to the UFF/UDA by the RUC. The Detail outlines how: In 2010 the families were informed by the Historic Enquiries Team (HET) that police had “disposed of” interview notes of two loyalists who’d been caught in possession of the …

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