there Republicans who will "just say no"
to embracing the British constabulary? Has the
Stormont Deal been unmasked by the terms promulgated
on Friday 13th? Have calls to trust the leadership
and stay the course, created a state of denial
about what Republicans must yield, at Britain's
behest, to join a Paisley dominated British regime
? Are there Republicans willing to unite on agreed
actions against British demands for backing the
re-named crown constabulary, crown courts and
criminalization? These critical questions jump
from the pages of the Friday the 13th document,
issued by the British crown with Dublin as co-signer.
full significance of what is demanded by the crown
must be faced honestly. Britain's terms begin
with a public declaration by Sinn Fein that henceforth
the party will "fully support" the British
constabulary. Sinn Fein is the political party
of a movement formed to resist British crown forces
and remove British rule. Many of its leaders and
most respected members began their involvement
with a solemn pledge to end British rule, and
risked death, imprisonment, torture and hardship
in keeping that pledge.
British crown constabulary is the cutting edge
of British repression. Its members shot Irish
children with plastic bullets and carried out
shoot-to-kill. Crown constables murdered in collusion
with pro-British loyalists or traitor agents like
Denis Donaldson and Freddie Scapatticci. They
forced confessions in holding centers like Castlereagh,
and then whitewashed torture with perjury in Diplock
Courts. Its members then scoffed at the grief
of the relatives of its victims, who still fight
for truth through groups like Relatives for Justice.
Now Republicans who pledged to resist and remove
this British force and British rule are being
forced by the British to proclaim a public pledge
of full support for British forces, British rule,
British laws, and British courts.
Some will say that the Police Service of Northern
Ireland is somehow not the Royal Ulster Constabulary,
echoing the same arguments that Republicans ridiculed
when the B-Specials became the Ulster Defense
Regiment. Nothing but the name and uniform insignia
have changed. It remains a British constabulary
imposing British rule and hauling Republicans
they deem in violation of British laws before
British crown courts.
Patten specifically provided that the RUC should
not be disbanded but re-named, Northern Ireland
Police Service (NIPS), which was altered only
to avoid adding to the ridicule expected to be
shouted at the force by Republicans with calls
about being nipped.
who officer, select, train and indoctrinate recent
recruits, were themselves trained, indoctrinated
and promoted through the ranks of the RUC. When
veteran Republican leaders were volunteering out
of a commitment to oust British rule, now long
serving RUC were taking jobs to impose that rule.
In the Andersonstown News on October 16th,
Mairtin O'Muilleoir wrote it would be "fun"
to bring the crown constabulary to heel, citing
as credentials that he speaks "as someone
who was in the middle of the police riot on the
Andersonstown Road in August 1984 when Sean Downes
was killed by the RUC". He writes in a column
accompanied by photographs of that brutal attack
that "those of us who were on the Andersonstown
Road learnt a lesson in policing that day which
we have not forgotten." The RUC that day
charged into a crowd of peaceful men, women, and
children, who were sitting on the ground at the
request of Gerry Adams, as a clear showing that
there would be no resistance to any attempt to
arrest this writer for defying a censorship banning
order issued by British direct ruler James Prior.
The RUC attacked the crowd with such brutality,
sectarian bigotry and triumphal glees, that they
ran by this writer, being so intent on the chance
to kill, injure and terrorize. They lied about
it afterwards, and whitewashed the murder of Sean
Downes in a sham trial, about which his widow
was not given the courtesy of notification and
attended only after she read of its start.
many of these same RUC members have stayed on,
been promoted through the ranks and hold senior
positions today? How many constables were trained
by these uniformed terrorists, and taught the
same brutality and bigotry? Are some of them now
attending job fairs in Republican areas with Sinn
Fein cooperation and attempting to enlist young
Republicans? Who is being brought to heel by whom?
The idea that this will lead to "fun"
presented in the context of the RUC attack on
August 12,1984 is incomprehensible if not unconscionable.
On the very day the British published their Friday
the 13th terms, the "Derry Journal"
published an account of the crown constabulary's
efforts to bribe and blackmail Derry man James
McDonagh into becoming an informer agent. Mr.
McDonagh is no dissident. He is a Sinn Fein activist.
The re-named RUC apparently envisioned for McDonagh
a Denis Donaldson type role in Derry Sinn Fein.
was the crown constabulary trolling for new informer
agents? Are the British seeking informer agents
who can serve as did Donaldson in post ceasefire
days, placed, promoted and maneuvered within the
ranks, to undermine Sinn Fein from within?
British are demanding that Sinn Fein fully support,
and embrace the British crown constabulary and
British rule in Ireland which the party and its
leading members once vowed to remove. But that
is only step one.
Sinn Fein must sanction British crown courts and
what are euphemistically described by the British
as criminal justice institutions. For Irish Republicans
the crown legal institutions have had little to
do with justice and much to do with repression.
For several years, the British legal framework
consisted of internment orders which dispensed
with legal niceties such as charge, evidence or
trial. After internment orders became politically
untenable, the British created Diplock, non-jury
courts in which crown judges could be counted
upon to jail Republican suspects without troublesome
Irish juries. Most Republicans would be routinely
sentenced with no evidence other than confessions
beaten out of them and backed by perjury of the
constables who inflicted the torture.
courts would also host super grass show- trials
where paid perjurers gave scripted testimony against
targeted political suspects. Solicitors who fought
for Republicans by turning British law against
the crown were threatened. Pat Finucane and Rosemary
Nelson were assassinated by agents of the RUC
and the cover-up of their murders continues. How
many Sinn Fein leaders and Republican heroes have
been victims of British injustice? Now Sinn Fein
must embrace and endorse these same courts even
as other Republicans face being railroaded by
the British recently trumpeted that Diplock courts
would be abolished, an edict, which they presented
as an important breakthrough to facilitate Sinn
Fein endorsement of the crown courts. The British
then quietly added that the breakthrough would
not begin for eleven months and not thereafter
apply in any case where a crown prosecutor so
requests. In short, Diplock non-jury courts would
be abolished except for all pending cases of Republican
suspects, which would be completed and thereafter
for all future cases upon the routine prosecutor's
request. Who negotiated and accepted this?
if to illustrate, how little has changed, headlines
emerged from the crown prosecution of Sean Hoey.
A defense of alibi was raised by a key witness
in the box, who produced passport stamped Zambia
at a critical date. The defense was raised not
by the accused in the dock but by a Scene of Serious
Crime Fiona Cooper, who with other key crown witnesses
has been forced to admit fabricating evidence.
She was in Zambia when a statement written under
her name was dated. Crown Detective Chief Inspector
Marshall admitted that he had fed other witnesses
false information, covered-up or concealed evidence
of innocence, instructed witnesses to change their
statements then hid the originals. British troops
were given access to scenes which allowed the
opportunity to tamper with evidence.
witnesses admitted that unexplained changes had
taken place with exhibits. Evidence was just dumped
together from different incidents. These charges
began after threats to plant DNA were made, witnessed
and apparently carried out. Still the crown prosecution
continues against the South Armagh Republican.
who have virtually admitted acts that warrant
prosecution for conspiracy to pervert justice
and perjury are entertained by the Diplock court.
can Sinn Fein fight and oppose British injustice
while endorsing and vouching for the British courts
and institutions which inflict miscarriages of
justice upon Republicans? How can Sinn Fein leaders
who have been victims of miscarriages of justice,
endorse these institutions of British repression?
years ago Bobby Sands MP, Patsy O'Hara and other
Republicans died on hunger strike rather than
brand themselves and Irish resistance to British
rule as criminal by wearing a criminal uniform.
Republicans rightfully honored and paid tribute
to these patriots throughout the year. Their sacrifice
was part of a long battle to resist a British
policy of criminalization. The British demand
that Sinn Fein ratify the British constabulary,
British courts and institutions. Will such an
endorsement not betoken an acceptance that Republicans
hauled before such British courts by the British
constabulary are in fact criminals? Is it not
an acceptance of British criminalization?. How
can former Republican political prisoners make
such an endorsement at a time when fellow Republicans
are resisting criminalization at Maghaberry? How
can Sinn Fein do this without abandoning the very
principle for which Bobby Sands MP and the hunger
strikers gave their lives?
Britain demands that Sinn Fein co-operate fully.
What does full cooperation with the crown forces
contemplate? Does this include calling upon residents
of areas like Ballymurphy or South Armagh to welcome
the constabulary? Will it mean giving information
against named Republican dissidents? Will it mean
being the eyes and ears of the re-named RUC? How
much will be required to satisfy the British and
Paisley? How many times will Paisley threaten
to delay or shut down Stormont on the grounds
that Sinn Fein is not cooperating fully to Paisley's
is not enough for Sinn Fein to do these things.
A public pledge of support for the crown constabulary
must be given by Martin McGuinness Already the
DUP has threatened boycotts and delays on the
timing and terms required. The meaning of this
important symbol to the DUP and British is obvious.
Martin McGuinness was long viewed as a leading
commander of the Irish Republican Army. For the
DUP the prospect of Martin McGuinness giving a
pledge of salute to the RUC will be regarded as
a humiliating gesture of submission, perhaps even
more satisfactory than the witnessed destruction
of IRA arms. No wonder Paisley has already started
to contend over the timing and detail of this
Fein must next campaign for a ballot box endorsement
of the British Constabulary. Republicans who were
victims of the RUC, who resisted as a community,
will now be urged to give their backing to the
RUC. How will Relatives For Justice or other families
of victims respond? Will not their fight for justice
for their relatives, be hopelessly compromised
by an electoral embrace of the RUC? This is a
community which suffered murder, brutality, house
raids, and arrests in order to support Republican
resistance to British rule and a struggle for
freedom. Now Sinn Fein will be forced to call
for and campaign on behalf of a vote of full endorsement
of British rule and the British constabulary by
the members of this community.
STATE OF DENIAL
an American journalist, Bob Woodward published
a book entitled State of Denial about the
Bush administration in Iraq. Without moving off
topic from Ireland it can be noted that the author
contrasts the repeated platitudes and hollow slogans
about victory, and the last throes of the opposition
with actual facts about a conflict that most Americans
believe was a blunder. He uses as a theme his
view that the administration is in a state of
denial with the American people but says he cannot
answer whether the Bush administration deliberately
withholds the truth for political considerations,
or has itself become a victim of self-deception.
When Sinn Fein presents the Friday the 13th terms
of endorsement for the crown constabulary, and
British rule as a step towards anything other
than British objectives of Ulsterization, criminalization,
and normalization, can that not be viewed as a
state of denial?
Can Republicans at this crucial time unite to
say no to the RUC? Can there be joint action on
a campaign on this issue which can be accepted
by many shades within the Republican community?
Can they cooperate on forums or white line pickets
to highlight this issue? Could there be a Toome
type meeting or meeting with a respected impartial
chair to seek common ground from groups, independents,
relatives of RUC victims etc to say no to the
RUC, even if the only achievable goal is to diminish
any mandate and set out a position which will