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British Police - Republican Policemen?

category national | miscellaneous | feature author Thursday December 07, 2006 17:29author by Dialectical - Ógra Shinn Féinauthor email osfnational at yahoo dot ie Report this post to the editors

Policing – Reform or Revolution

featured image
Ogra back to what they do best

When Sinn Féin signed up to the Good Friday Agreement, their republican critics predicted it'd mean the continuation of British rule in the six counties. Inevitably this required the dismantling of the Republican Army, the decommissioning of its weapons, and acceptance of the state’s monopoly on policing and violence.

But accepting the British police, even a reformed one, is proving to be the most difficult of steps for Northern Republicans. The conflict grew out of the injustice meted out by the state and republican distaste for the police remains great. Contrary to the usual expectation that the Sinn Fein leadership can easily steer through any policy change concerned with the peace process, their youth wing in the article below has joined other republicans in criticising the shift on policing.

Interested Parties: Sinn Féin | Fourthwrite | The Blanket | Republican Sinn Féin | 32 CSM | IRSP | Eirigi | Anarchist articles | Socialist Party Pamphlet | Socialist Workers Party Article



Sean Brady writes:

The primary role of western-modelled police forces (as opposed to services) is to put back into place those who move beyond their remit. The police belong to an intricate system of governmental control encompassing, the judicial system, state prisons, the media and the statutory bodies. Their desire to protect and serve citizens is questionable.

A move on policing in terms of the latest negotiations will not give republicans the power to collapse the corrupt institution of the RUC from within. We will not wrest the important aspects of state control from the British government.

While our people and communities need safety, the limited devolution of policing powers to the assembly will not achieve this nor create accountability within this force. Having limited control of a strong arm in society does not, has not, and will not alleviate the causes of crime. We must understand the social and primarily economic causes of most ‘crime’ before attempting to address it.

The potential setbacks for the struggle cannot be underestimated if we give credence to such a failed system to clinch a short-term deal with right-wing unionists and the British government. The pitfall within the current debate is its parameters. We can’t allow ourselves to be reduced to a discussion on reform of a British system. We must debate how we can develop and implement a policing and criminal justice model for Ireland now, or in the future. To do so we cannot put the noose of this failed system around our necks.

How do we deal with the ongoing policing and justice void within the country caused by British occupation in the north?

How do we challenge the economic and social inequalities intrinsic to both states and the corruption and ineptitude that characterises both regimes?

How do we rectify the social and economic ills that affect our communities, indeed all of society?

Firstly we must reject the failed model that is western policing and maintain our integrity as Irish republicans. We should recognise that crime is multi-faceted and challenge it accordingly; that the archaic, draconian, Christian model of ‘crime and punishment’ in this country does not and never should apply within a civilised progressive society. It simply does not work.

Why are the vast majority of prison populations from multi-deprived backgrounds and, in most cases imprisoned for crimes against people from the same background? Yet there are very few white collars in Maghaberry, Brixton or Portlaoise. Do the police deal with real crime or simply with controlling ghettos? In truth there are no greater crimes than those perpetrated daily by the Shell oils, Coca Cola’s, and Sellafield’s of this world yet these institutions are not effectively policed at all.

The challenge that faces us is that we are trying to wrest national sovereignty including control of the policing and justice structures from Whitehall and Leinster house and give it back to the people of Ireland. We must be bigger than the narrow debate surrounding policing.

Crucially, we as republicans are not to blame for the fracturing of our society by crime, poverty, politics or ineptitude. Taking a position, however strong, within this system will not help us change the situation. Republicans cannot solve the policing issue by becoming the police within this system.

We should tackle the issues and not try to effect cosmetic change within a British controlled and irreformable model of policing. We must find an alternative to the western norm of policing and control; a system that benefits society and deals with social harm at its roots. Our answer must be to invest in community development and to instil a preventative ethos, rather than chasing the wild goose of policing reform.

Safety, civility and cooperation is more than having ownership of, or access to, a body that can ‘punish the wicked’. The resources exist in this country to address societal failures but have not yet realised their full potential. Many of the resources of community empowerment are at our disposal; CRJ, the safer neighbourhoods projects, a litany of community/youth organisations and voluntary sectors. Our communities are capable of accepting a revolutionary initiative if they are participants in its creation and stakeholders in its success. We should not fall victim to the simplistic analysis of ‘a police force equals order and safety’.

We also cannot bow to the pressure to make a hasty and ultimately counterproductive decision. The decision on policing and criminal justice has the potential to set back or completely derail any radical change. It also has the potential to assimilate the republican movement into the institutions we’re committed to replacing. It would be a massive republican misjudgement.

We will become part of the problem not the solution. Our energies would be much better spent dismantling the failed apparatus of security and policing and dedicating its vast wasted budget to community strengthening measures, creating strong, independent, proud, organised, politicised and educated communities.

We cannot say yes to policing for short-term political gain. We must put forward a completely different, multi-faceted, long-term and transparent strategy. We must seek investment in and encouragement of preventative measures. We must expose state ineptitude and unwillingness to deal with the root causes of crime and also the real remit of police forces.

The debate that has begun is too narrow. We must not allow ourselves to enter the debate at this level. This is not a decision that can be taken within the narrow confines of reform or Patten or on a quid pro quo basis in negotiations. No one in the country is unaffected by this issue therefore no one should be left out of the decision making process.

We should rise above the media hype and state promoted hysteria. If we have political strength and political support, this is where we have to use it. We have an obligation to consult with, inform and then act on behalf of those people. We must give ownership of the policing question to society itself and allow the stakeholders to express what they would find acceptable - Hopefully a new and revolutionary social justice system.

Let us begin to collate their views and inform them of our own and move forward in a real debate about policing.

"Those who own your lands will make your laws and command your liberties and your lives." James Fintan Lalor

Related Link: http://www.osf.pro.ie

Ógra activist assaulted by PSNI at peaceful protest (Omagh, Co. Tyrone)
Ógra activist assaulted by PSNI at peaceful protest (Omagh, Co. Tyrone)

author by okpublication date Wed Dec 06, 2006 15:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

OSF needs to condemn not only the RUC/PSNI but also Sinn Fein for wanting nationalists and republicans to join the British Police to protect the British State!

Imagine if your photos (that you posted) if the RUC/PSNI arressting officer was a local Sinn Fein or PIRA member.

Keep up the indepent thinking and good luck with ARISE and dont forget that the police of Northern Ireland are an imperalist British force! and that there are more british troops in Ireland than in Iraq, and everyone here can agreed that the "war" in Iraq is an occupation.

here's a thought, will sinn fein announce that Iraqis should join the police in iraq to end the occupation there?????

author by Jonahpublication date Thu Dec 07, 2006 17:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good though the article is, it's merely restatement of Ógra's existing and long-standing position of opposition to going onto the Policing Boards. They've been opposed to it for longer than some of the groups linked by the poster have existed.

And fair play to them.

author by Activistpublication date Thu Dec 07, 2006 18:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think this is a very constuctive argument Ógra have put up, (alot better than the IRSP - we won't touch anything til a Socialist Republic jargon) but it must be more than words on a page - community, revolutionary alternatives must be built now. That will strenghten any argument!

author by ppublication date Thu Dec 07, 2006 20:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A bit of cop on, you don't discuss matters like this publicly! Im not even a member of Ógra and i know that!

author by Who?publication date Thu Dec 07, 2006 20:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

These members of Ogra seem to have the conviction lacking in the Provisonal Sinn Fein leadership. I would say one thing however, watch your backs because the leadership has a way of dealing with those would dare question them, they will start a rumour campaign to blacken your names. This is one thing they have learnt from the Brits, the best way to silence a person is by destroying his character.

Many good and committed Republicans have been targeted in this way over the years, especially during the most recent Sell Out.

author by B Macpublication date Thu Dec 07, 2006 21:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sinn Fein are good at spreading rumours, like their most recent one about death threats against their leaders. In the end it turned out that the only attempt on their lives was by a Loyalist with arthritis.

Why should any right minded Republican try to kill Adams, McGuinness or any other of their lackeys when they are driving their own members with any common sense or idealism out by their repeated grovelling to Paisley in a desperate attempt to get into power at any cost.

We just have to sit back and enjoy the spectacle of Paisley degrading them at every turn.

The one thing that other Republicans can do is consider a united front to oppose the Shinners at every turn. OK we might not at this moment in time be strong enough electorally but that will take time and that time should begin tomorrow.

author by webwatcherpublication date Fri Dec 08, 2006 00:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's quite an interesting experience paging throught the various websites for which links are provided above. They are all pretty poor, but you can have fun deciding which one is the worst. Sinn Fein's has an ad for fundraiser that was on last Sunday, the RSF one has pictures of what looks like an old folks Christmas party, but the Fourthwrite one has:

Fourthwrite

the magazine compaining for an

Irish Democratic Socialist Republic

emblazoned across the top.

author by Indy observerpublication date Sat Dec 09, 2006 02:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It may be a difficult issue but at least the PSNI know what the meaning of the word accountability is.... They use more restraint towards protesters than the Gardai ever do. If that was a Garda car they were standing beside, guaranteed they would think of something to have you up the courts for an unlawful protest!

Compare that to the way the Gardai acted in mayday 2002, in Rossport ..... The Gardai are still the most ill-trained, un-proffesional Police force in Europe. They are allowed to brutalise peaceful protesters, they can approach you even if you're walking on the Street (minding your own business) and interrogate you in an authoritarian manner. Whats more, they can get away with this. To sum it up, they are a Police force comprising of many rogue members who only know of the baton and the fist- these members need to be thrown out of the force to ensure public confidence increases.

Also, their new complaints system is a whitewash. Superintendents are allowed handle the complaints system- so much for the Independent body... In Britain, there is a commission set up called the 'independent Police Complaints Commission' which fully examines complaints about police mis-conduct and works independently of the Police force. We need the same in this country. If the Gardai are that confident that they are a fully accountable, non-bureaucratic, non-authoritarian Police force then what have they to fear from the setting up of an independent complaints commission?

author by Red Wedgepublication date Sat Dec 09, 2006 15:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why is their a link to the website of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement on indymedia.?

author by Meaghner Hobsonpublication date Sat Dec 09, 2006 21:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Why is their a link to the website of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement on indymedia.?

Because the story is about a looming shift in policy by the major republican organisation and it's not unlikely that people interested in that would be interested in what other republicans thought. The 32 CSM, like all republican organisations, aren't exactly the mainstream media's number #1 love, so it's doubley useful for an alternative news website to enable such views to be accessed.

Indymedia itself doesn't have a view on the brilliance or otherwise 32CSM or any other political organisation.

author by John Meehanpublication date Sun Dec 10, 2006 23:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's good that Ógra Sinn Féin raises the policing issue.

There is a left alternative to the Good Friday Agreement :

See the links below :

http://www.dsp.org.au/links/back/issue13/McAliskey.htm

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/52280

http://www.indymedia.ie/article/80013&comment_limit=0&c...78789

We need to be clear the war is over, and oppose coalition with far right wing fundamentalist organisations such as the Democratic Unionist Party.

it is worthwhile taking a look at the scary Ian Paisley website to see the political character of the individual Gerry Adams has proposed be the next First Minister of Northern Ireland :

http://www.ianpaisley.org/main.asp

Readers with a sense of humour are specially recommended to read the bizarre article on "Seat Nº166" in the European Parliament.

On a more serious note, the following Sunday Times article indicates the practical problems that will arise if the DUP is given partial state power at Stormont :

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/printFriendly/0,,1-1507-24....html

Liam Clarke attacks "Vile Unionist Homophobia" - and he is dead right.

author by Frankpublication date Mon Dec 11, 2006 01:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What dreadful things are the British Empire linked to?

Anyhow the problem OSF faces is quite simple; policing is a symptom of what PSF has politicaly accepted. Does OSF now realise that they must be opposed to the cause in order to proffer a proper rejection of policing or have they realised that in signing up to the GFA their options regarding this matter are severely curtailed?

author by M Lacpublication date Mon Dec 11, 2006 16:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Too little, too late from OSF. Their leaders have already decided to embrace British colonialism and policing, so it doesn't matter to them what OSF says now.

As for the threats against Gerry and Co. I think everyone knows at this stage that it is bull; made up in order to paint any republican that doesn't embrace the SF 'vision' as a crazy, bloodthirsty dissident.

author by Pól Macpublication date Mon Dec 11, 2006 19:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

i have no time for the 'new' sinn fein political position in being all too willing to accept the captialist political system, and an even considering an imperialist police force. but Ogra are genuine in their opposition and true republicanism. and they have expressed this in the party, not that they'd be listened too but. il give them that

author by John Meehanpublication date Mon Dec 11, 2006 19:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Democratic Unionist Party's far-right fundamentailst politics are apparent ffrom the following stories :

http://www.nuzhound.com/articles/Sunday_Tribune/arts200...n.php

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/616...3.stm

Congratulations to the youth wing of the SDLP for staging a protest outside Stormont.

When will the penny drop?

It's not too late for Sinn Féin, and even (James Joyce help us!) the SDLP and the Alliance Party, to honestly admit coalition government with the DUP is a backward step (into the pre-enlightenment middle ages) too far.

Mercifully bring the Stormont Parliament experiment to a humane end - a nice Christmas and New year present for us all.

author by Who?publication date Mon Dec 11, 2006 20:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm afraid that it is too late for Sinn Fein, they've gone too far and now find themselves being sucked more and more into the quick sands of Unionist bigotry with only the DUP able to help them by throwing them the lifeline of participation in a Paisley-led Government. However the over eager Shinners have left themselves with no more bargaining chips and the DUP are now content to sit back and watch them sink, while enjoying every moment of their victory.

Personally I couldn't give a damn!

author by PSpublication date Mon Dec 11, 2006 21:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Too true, Sinn Feign are like pathetic teacher's pets trying to please the Master.

"Did you know big laud that the United Irishmen were Presbyterians?" I nearly threw up my dinner.

author by Shauna - Ógra Shinn Féinpublication date Tue Dec 12, 2006 18:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Editor's Note: Editorial comment edited out
.

Now: my thoughts on this,

Paisley is, yet again, trying to play word games with the process. He has said that Sinn Féin must humble itself by endorsing the RUC/PSNI

This sounds a lot like his "sackcloth and ashes" speech of the recent past. That speech didn't work and neither will this.

He is trying to create division with Republicanism as his own party is split in more places than a Terry's choclate orange. The prospect of Republicans in government with the DUP is enough to give your average DUP voter a coronary embolism.

The DUP is scared that Sinn Féin will call their bluff and show them up for what they are, sectarian bigots!

This is a time for Republicans to stand as one and take those tough decisions together. The policing issue is quite simple, it hasn't went far enough yet.

The party has already said that unless there is significant movement from the Brits there will be no special Ard Fheis called. Even when one is called it is up to the Sinn Féin membership to decide what is acceptable.

Given all that Sinn Féin members and Republicans in general should have nothing to worry about.

It is the DUP who are on the ropes, let's keep them there!

Related Link: http://ograshinnfein.blogspot.com
author by Sartrepublication date Wed Dec 13, 2006 00:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Id like to know exactly why the poster "Red Wedge" has a problem with Indymedia linking to 32 CSM ? Does he believe there should be a wedge between Indymedia and this organisations site for some reason ? Obviously theres an insinuation in the post , however it seems non specified insinuation rather than any substance is this posters way of..well..insinuating something . Why on earth is there a problem with that particular organisation being linked to ?

author by provo implosionpublication date Wed Dec 13, 2006 19:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

By Seosamh Mac An Ultaigh, Tyrone

I WRITE this letter with deep sadness and great anger.

Sad that many honourable republicans are being hoodwinked and cajoled into accepting a British agenda by a leadership who are using the loyalty that the grass roots have shown throughout the years of struggle and suffering.

Anger at a leadership expert at total in-house control with no room for criticism or another point of view.

I am not a dissident (I count myself mainstream) but I am a free thinker and speak as I see it.

Myself and another 12 ex-prisoners, internees, blanket men where I live have never been asked our thoughts on the policing issue. Why?

So much for the in-depth discussions the movement is supposed to have with all the republican family – not just members of Sinn Fein.

We are bombarded with clichés like “You have to see the bigger picture” as if we are incapable of having a constructive or alternative view to that of the leadership.

The leadership vowed there would never be a ‘rusty bullet’ handed over to the British.

What did they get in return for ecommissioning?

Nothing – Paisley just moved on to his next demand – policing.

So after the surrender of all its arms the leadership is asking republicans to take up arms again but this time in a six-county police force.

A force involved in the slaughter of republicans in particular in Armagh and Tyrone.

A force under investigation for 75 killings.

A force whose members by their own admission used child informers.

A force that batoned us at the funerals of our republican dead.

A force that brutalised us in its interrogation centres – including some of the dead hungerstrikers who were forced to implicate themselves under torture.

It is ironic that 25 years after beating Thatcher’s criminalisation policy – with 10 of the bravest dead on hunger strike – republicans are going to criminalise themselves by joining and supporting such a tainted force?

As an ex-prisoner who spent years on the blanket, all of this is deeply hurtful and nearly beyond belief. The six-county police force is obligated under British law to uphold and enforce (under arms) the constitutional position and that, of course, is partition.

If Sinn Fein supports or joins the six-county police force, a vote for Sinn Fein will then be a vote for maintaining partition.

It’s as serious as that.

All republicans should keep that firmly in mind at election time.

author by Kieran O'Sullivan - Nonepublication date Fri Dec 15, 2006 17:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am always interested in the term Monoplay on violence. The state has a monoploy on violence by virtue of its structures and in the context of the war in Iraq this is appaling. However in the context of policing in NI it is perfectly acceptable to have a single group which is recognised by everyone as having the authority to act in defense of the community. The PSNI/RUC is far from that organisation however what accountability has there ever been to the community by any of the non state actors who have carried out some prity reactionary attacks to impose order.

Their treatment of drug addicts and petty thieves is an example. If the PD's came out with a policy of summary execution of people suspected of drug dealing you can bet I would be marching against it.

The PSNI/RUC has at least some accountability to the community and while they are far from perfect it is far prefferable to have some accountability than none.

Put very simply which would you rather get caught smoking hash by your local PSNI/RUC officer or your local rupublican?

What is the alternitave to SF strategy. Lets hear it!

author by Ciarán Ó Suillebháinpublication date Fri Dec 15, 2006 18:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So Republicans will be asked by Gerry and Martin to join a British police force, to help uphold British Law over Irish people, and help to enforce British justice, and maintain the British statelet on Irish soil.

Our dead must be spinning in their graves. For what died the sons of Róisín? Was it British policing?

author by Dublinerpublication date Fri Dec 15, 2006 20:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm a Republican and although I have nothing but respect of the leadership of SF.
If they go along with this and join the RUC/PSNI then I will walk away and join someone else.
I dont care what they say about leading us to the Republic,I wont go for this.
In my book anyone who stays with SF after they join the RUC are not Republicans

author by Barry - 32 CSMpublication date Sat Dec 16, 2006 05:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"If the PD's came out with a policy of summary execution of people suspected of drug dealing you can bet I would be marching against it. "

Right now theres a report before the cabinet of Leinster House which states the British crown forces , military and police , had a policy of summarily executing innocent civilians both sides of the border on the suspicion they were Irish , using everything from knives and guns to no warning car bombs in quite indiscriminate and murderous attacks on the general populace . Hopefully we will soon see details on Indymedia of your planned protest march on this matter , or perhaps your intent to march against the Gardaí and governemnt figures colluding with British terrorists and their state killings and their current criminal activity of hiding the files . As Minister for Justice the recent post Barron report disappearance of all the files from McDowells justice department , Garda HQ , Castleblaney , Dundalk and Monaghan Town garda stations come right back to the PDs door . These files have all walked under Mickey McDowells watch . Please let us know when you intend to march against this illegal activity , collusion in the mass murder of your fellow Irish citizens both sides of the border , highly illegal terrorist activity the PDs have direct ministerial responsibility for . Or perhaps you may be too afraid to get on the wrong side of the gardaí on such a politically sensitive matter - virtually everyone else seems terrified of this deeply corrupt force which seems to be controlled from Whuitehall and Vauxhall bridge HQ in London rather than by any Irish body . The PSNI will most certainly be under the direct control of British military intelligence , the same British intelligence which sponsored about 1000 state killings both sides of the border and which seems to control the Gardaí special branch . Rather helpfully our southern politicians put them virtually in charge of C3 at Baldonnel in 1974 a few months after they bombed Dublin and Monaghan .
In the meantime Irish republicans will continue to reject all wings of the British occupation forces in this country .Anyone supporting the British occupation forces in this country is by simple definition a British collaborator and not an Irish republican . Anyone joining the PSNI is by definition a member of the British occupation forces in Ireland .

author by Sean Bradypublication date Tue Dec 19, 2006 10:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I wrote the article attached to this piece for muscaill magazine at the request of the editor. I'm glad to see that Ógra have used it as a discussion piece. I am a bit annoyed to see some pettiness, individualising, felon setting and cheap point scoring in this discussion forum. The article is a stand alone, opinion piece from myself and should only serve as a piece of mature discussion material on the major issue of the day, i.e. republicans and policing. I'm writing this to qualify my artcile and to distance myself from the personalised nonsense that seems to be following it up. My views on policing are obvious from my article. I am not trying to be divisive, insulting or destructive and resent the allegations that i am. I do however recognise the divisive nature of the policing question and gave ample forethought to my article accordingly. In the end i believe that it was correct to write the article and that muscaill were right to publish it and furthermore that the views expressed therein are legitimate. I would gladly listen to any counter arguement and give it the courtesy both of objectivity and reading it on its own merits. I will not be drawn into an attack game on any republican or republican organisation. I still believe that policing endorsement, in the context of the current phase of negotiations, cannot deliver for republicans and that it will be, at best, irrelevant in terms of tackling crime. I believe that republicans who feel likewise should make their views known in a comradely constructive manner and have the courage to stand by them. It was not my intention that my article would appear as a discussion piece anywhere other than in muscaill magazine but, as it has, i feel it only fair that i comment. Make up your own minds.

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