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Just Say No


Martin Galvin • 22 October 2006


Are 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.


The 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.

The 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.

Those 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.

How 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.

Why 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?

The 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.


Next 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.

Diplock 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 these courts.


Ironically 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?


As 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.

Other 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.

Witnesses who have virtually admitted acts that warrant prosecution for conspiracy to pervert justice and perjury are entertained by the Diplock court.

How 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?


Twenty-five 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?


Next 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 satisfaction?


It 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 ceremony.


Sinn 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.


Recently 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 be vindicated?





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

25 October 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

From Up the Ra to Up the Rozzers
Anthony McIntyre

Just Say No
Martin Galvin

Whither Irish Republicanism
Mick Hall

The Three Stooges
John Kennedy

Jockeying For Position
Dr John Coulter

An Irish Agreement
Liam O Comain

Up the Garden Path
John Kennedy

A Gaelic Experiement
Nathan Dowds

Preventing Prejudice
Anthony McIntyre

16 October 2006

Friday the 13th — The Most Terrifying Deal Ever Done!
Tom Luby

Black Friday
Anthony McIntyre

When No Means Yes
Dr John Coulter

Blowin' In The Wind
John Kennedy

Time to Conclude NI Process
David Adams

Once Bitten
Anthony McIntyre

Dysfunctional Family Values
Mick Hall

Racism: The Social Uniter?
Dr John Coulter

Nobody Home
John Kennedy

'The Revolution is the People'
Jane Horgan-Jones



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