Friday, June 09, 2006

Increasing Nationalist Support For New Policing Arrangements

There has been an increase in the number of reported crimes, including domestic violence, in south Armagh according to police figures. This is both heartening and worrying. Heartening because the good people of that area are finally being released from beneath the yoke of castigation by those who oppose the police- they now have a police service which they can at least talk to. It is also worrying because it shows how for years many women in south Armagh have been suffering in violent relationships with nowhere to turn.

192 incidents of domestic violence were reported in 2005/2006 compared with 162 the previous year and 70 in 2003/2004.

It is perfectly understandable that for years the population of the area shunned any engagement with the police- the RUC was almost wholly unrepresentative of the south Armagh community, save for the few pockets of unionism in areas such as Newtownhamilton and Bessbrook.

However, with the implementation of Patten and a new police service which is rapidly accelerating towards proper reflection of the community of the north, there is no legitimate reason to discourage people from contacting the PSNI if they have been the victims of crime. Politics should not be let get in the way of safeguarding people’s lives.

Meanwhile, a Sinn Féin councillor has claimed that the streets of Newry are awash with cheap hard drugs, including heroin and cocaine. He called for increased vigilance as regards both drug dealing and consumption at places of entertainment in the city.

“Otherwise it’s a recipe for disaster,” he claimed. “Someone is going to be killed unless something is done about this.”

It is good to hear a Sinn Féin councillor calling for something to be done about this scourge. However, the only effective way to combat this sort of plague is to fully engage the police in ridding the town of drugs. There is no place for vigilantism when people’s lives are at risk. If Sinn Féin is serious about combating serious crime, then they must join with the SDLP in encouraging the citizens of the area to tip-off police if they know about drugs being dealt. That is the only way to stop these dealers and ensure they are locked up. Otherwise, the scum will continue to live off the misery of addicts and young people without anything being done to stop them. Again, politics must not be allowed to get in the way of safeguarding people’s lives.

Sinn Féin has put itself in an invidious position- it fails to engage in the new policing system, but nationalist confidence is steadily increasing in the post-Patten regime. And whilst in the past the often heavy-handed tactics of the RUC acted as a barrier to nationalist acceptance of that force, Sinn Féin is gradually realising that the only way its purported claims to support the concept of law and order can be realised is through the promotion of the concept of using the PSNI to combat crime. They have yet to take the leap of faith and endorse the policing structures- recently they orchestrated a ‘Political Policing’ campaign in an attempt to galvanise nationalist opinion against the PSNI to delay the inevitable- it failed, and left a lot of people angry that their communities had been plastered with tacky fly-posters. They have also attempted to set up an alternative police force in the form of CRJs, bodies with no forensic or measurable expertise- thankfully these are also being spurned, and only this week Newry & Mourne Council rejected a claim for funding of such groups.

I would be the first to admit that the PSNI has quite a way to go in terms of its ability to solve crimes. The FSB survey earlier this week proved that the police needs to up its game in terms of prosecutions. However, this is a practical rather than an ideological problem, and the sooner Sinn Féin joins the SDLP in providing a strong nationalist voice in holding the PSNI to account, the better. It is not a question of blindly supporting the police as unionists did with the RUC for years- that leads us nowhere. It is a case of providing checks and balances to ensure that we never go down the road to a police state again, and to secure an effective police force which serves all the community.

4 comments:

Kevin said...

When are the SDLP going to realise they jumped too soon on the policing issue as has been proved by Stormontgate, Orange parades through Ardoyne in 2004, continuing collusion(mark haddock, lounghinisland) and deliberate falsehoods trotted out viz-a-vis decommissioning and criminality (Sam Kincaid Jan 2006)?

Wee Alex Attwood has no more influence on the police than my granny and the change that is being effected is stemming solely from Sinn Féin's insistence on the FULL Patten recommendations and devolution of Policing powers.

Name one change effected by the SDLP through the Policing Board? They have consistently been ignored on parades, plastic bullets srl.

El Matador said...

Kevin-

You say that Patten is not being fully implemented, yet Chris Patten says it is. Is he wrong about his own recommendations? Why would he sell himself short?

As regards devolution of justice, it's a bit rich of SF to demand this when they don't yet support the policing structures. You have to learn to walk before you can ru. And as the McCartney murder showed, the provos still see themselves as operating outside the remit of the justice system.

The Stormontgate collapse proved nothing- the fact is that there was a spying ring at Stormont, yet the PPS dropped the case for reasons which it refused to reveal. And of course, days later we had Donaldson outted. Hardly just a coincidence.

It's easy to complain about what you perceive as failures of the SDLP on the Board. What you fail to point out is that by refusing to take its seats, SF handed them to unionists, thus increasing their influence. If the SDLP emulated SF, unionists would have almost total control of the Board. Perhaps that is what SF wants- after all, a return to political policing would suit SF perfectly in the propaganda war.

It's easy to stand on the outside and complain. But that achieves nothing.

SF needs to enter the world of reality and stop letting dogma prevent them from giving proper leadership to their constituents.

Kevin said...

Hold on a minute now,

1. There was no spy ring at Stormont, the PPS and the late Denis Donaldson attested to that. The whole charade with over 100 police officers storming Sinn Féin offices and making off with... one floppy disc. This was a political stunt engineered for Trimble's benefit and was perpetrated on the SDLP's watch, no-one held accountable, failure number one.

2. Sinn Féin are not going to sit on a Board and legitimise decisions taken by British MPs and Ministers, when there is an Irish minister accountable to MLA's then we'll sit on the board. Walk before you can run? How does capitulating at half time compel the Brits to give us control of our own police??

3. McCartney's murder was a crime, a tragedy and completely unacceptable to all republican or otherwise. It was also shamelessly exploited by Alasdair "Travel Agent" McDonnell sending the sisters around the globe in an attempt to wrest Sinn Féin votes in South Belfast and sneak the the seat - he succeeded, maith thú Alasdair. However the IRA issue has been dealt with, they are no more, there are no arms, no arsenal - they have gone away you know. As McGunniess illustrated with his call to the fugitives from the Tohill case, times have changed.

4. Why have the SDLP failed to get to the bottom of continuing collusion in this most "transparent" of police forces?

5. Why have the SDLP failed to hold the officers responsible for ignoring the Parades Commission in Ardoyne and Lurgan to account? Martin Morgan the 'rising star' of the SDLP resigned over it? The reality is the SDLP have no clout whatsoever and are merely legitimising continuing wrongdoing.

Sinn Féin will support the police when the police deserve the support of the nationalist people.

Chris Gaskin said...

only this week Newry & Mourne Council rejected a claim for funding of such groups.

Let's just wait and see how that issue develops. I suspect that you and your party will not be as happy very shortly.