few days ago I found a leaflet lying in my hall.
It was from the PSNI. When I commented to a neighbour
that I had not heard the cop jeeps in the street,
I was told, facetiously, that Sinn Fein had actually
distributed them through the doors on behalf of
the PSNI. A small signifier of the lack of seriousness
attached to Sinn Fein's professed opposition to
leaflet was an appeal for information in relation
to serious crime that had scourged Ballymurphy for
weeks in the wake of the murder of local man Gerard
Devlin. This ranged from arsons to gun attacks.
Whether anybody responds remains to be seen. Why
one time it was thought that only republicans had
any real reason for opposing the cops and much of
that was put down to ideological hostility. But
after watching the performance of the PSNI in Ballymurphy
over the past two months, many people will conclude
that it is an absolute waste of time going near
them to report anything. Such an outlook will not
be born out of republican sentiment, but from awareness
that the PSNI have nothing practical to offer.
PSNI contributed absolutely nothing to community
safety in Ballymurphy. They were as active as Burton's
dummies. The place burned around them and they effectively
stayed their hand on the other side of the Vistula,
so to speak. Frances Notarantonio told me as she
lay in her hospital bed with the injuries she sustained
having been forced to leap from her upstairs bedroom
to escape being burned to death, how she had previously
had her car vandalised in front of the cops by one
of the organisers of the recent rally against anti-social
behaviour. Stories of this type are plentiful. The
PSNI leaflet stating that 'we would like to assure
the community that police are regularly patrolling
the Ballymurphy area' could easily have added, 'residents
can rest secure in the knowledge that as they are
being burned in their beds police will hear their
screams and will respond a week or two after the
fires have burned themselves out.'
upshot of this is that people who have been tortured
for years by hoods and anti-social elements and
who may have looked forward to the time when Sinn
Fein endorse the policing structures in the hope
that a policed estate would lead to increased community
safety and enhanced social harmony, now know it
is all a pipe dream.
is not going to deliver the magical panacea to the
crime problems that plague working class communities.
Rather than Alan McQuillan pursuing Thomas Slab
Murphy in South Armagh as a means to bounce Sinn
Fein into joining the policing board both he and
his Assets Recovery Agency could begin an investigation
into the ill gotten gains of the PSNI who have effectively
robbed the tax payer blind. With what audacity did
they lift their pay cheques after their performance
in Ballymurphy? Why were such cheques ever issued?
Is there no acknowledgement of the age-old maxim
that if you don't work you don't eat? A few hungry
peelers might find that loitering with no intent
is a wasteful exercise.
in the Sunday Independent Eilis O'Hanlon
expressed the following sentiment about Sinn Fein
demands on policing.
earn the confidence of republicans, police officers
in future should operate with both hands tied behind
their backs, a length of tape over their mouths
and a paper bag over their heads. And that the slogan
of the new force should be: "See No Evil, Hear
No Evil, And Most Of All Catch No Evil."
that theory may have been validated in Ballymurphy.
Certainly, Sinn Fein were testing the waters, trying
to dictate to the PSNI which houses should be searched
and which should not. The PSNI command in West Belfast,
it is alleged, is pioneering the drive to bring
Sinn Fein onto the policing board. After last September's
loyalist violence, which resulted from the Springfield
Road Orange parade being rerouted, unionists demanded
that the district commander and his number 2 should
be transferred. Both the SDLP and the Dublin government
resisted this. Since then it has been suggested
that a solid relationship has been established between
the West Belfast PSNI number two and a local man
alleged by some newspapers to be a member of the
IRA's army council. This has historical parallels
in the Sullivan-Dyball treaty of 1969. It is what
republicanism does when it goes Stick. One need
only visit the conference hall in the Farset International
to see the names of both men on a wall chart in
relation to a meeting that both attended concerning
the interface problems. The cop was down as 'government'
and the alleged army council man as 'community.'
Subsequently there is little to be shocked about
when Victor Notarantonio, who was torched out of
his Ballymurphy home, alleges that the cops told
him they were in discussions with the IRA about
the future of his extended family within the community.
in West Belfast is walking on political eggshells.
In order to entice Sinn Fein on board, the policy
is to hold out the carrot in West Belfast but wield
the stick in South Armagh. Whereas the effects of
the stick are visible enough, it takes a little
more probing to glimpse the carrot at work. As far
as the PSNI is concerned, those within the Ballymurphy
community not favoured by Sinn Fein can literally
roast. Nothing too vigorous will be pursued if it
is considered unpalatable to Sinn Fein as the cops
strategically play 'softly, softly, catchee monkey'
which means buying off West Belfast and bulldozing
community may not get the policing it deserves,
but the monkey will be caught.