The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Policing the Status Quo

Mick Hall •1 April 2006

Daily Ireland's correspondent, Jarlath Kearney recently conducted an interview with Denis Bradley, the outgoing vice-Chairman of the PSNI Policing Board. In his interview with Mr Bradley, Jarlath put forward the following hypothesis,

"Policing is fundamental to the maintenance of the status quo."

I feel this short statement from Mr Kearney in itself tells us a great deal about the worries and doubts a considerable number of SF members are having over whether or not members of their party should be nominated to the NI Policing Board, something which is being demanded of them by both the British and ROI governments, along with all of the main political parties in the north.

However, for me, the above proposition the Daily Ireland journalist raised with Mr Bradley says it all: for the status quo to be maintained, the northern Statelet must exist in perpetuity, thus making it very difficult, if not an impossibility, for an Irish Republican worthy of the name to sit on the Policing Board. For if they were to do so, they would have morphed into a Unionist and a supporter of the Status Quo to boot.

I do not intend to be insulting here, but there is no other way one can look at this. The purpose of the Northern Ireland Policing Board is to provide window dressing for the PSNI. If the Chief Constable over-spends when redecorating his office, the policing board's members can bring him to account. If he allows, with or without prior knowledge, the PSNI Special Branch to burgle and bug their way across the north of Ireland, it is an operational matter and not in the Board's remit, thus it is not their concern. Unless, that is, they make it so; even then they would have no power to order the Chief Constable to cease such actions.

The PSNI are not, as they are often portrayed in the media these days, some sort of independent neutral body, but a defensive arm of the State. When push comes to shove, they will be used against any organization or individuals which threaten the smooth running of the NI State-let. If Republicans sit on the Policing Board they will become part of the state machine. By being so they will be acting against the best interest of those they represent; it cannot but be so.

What SF is being asked to do here is accept responsibility without power, which is one of oldest sleight of hands within Perfidious Albion's armory. These Policing Boards are being sold to the general public as the height of accountability as far as Northern Ireland's policing is concerned, when in reality they are no such thing. They are designed as political cover for the PSNI and there is absolutely no constructive reason why members of Sinn Fein should sit upon them

Yet both PMs, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, are insistent that they do so, for like the majority of the nationalist community they are well aware the police are the sharp end of the northern state-let. If disorder once again breaks out, and if SF have by then joined the police boards, they will be partly responsible for the police service which will be called upon to suppress any disorder. They will have become an active part of the NI state machine.

If, for example, leading SF politicians were to complain about the heavy handed nature of the police, those in power will scoff and reply, "But you yourself play a role in overseeing the police, how can you possibly criticize them, they were only doing their job. The place to raise criticism of the PSNI is within the Policing Boards, not within the Assembly or in the media". In other words, SF will have been neutered.

Sinn Fein has already accepted the writ of the rule of law in the northern statelet and that is all any state can demand of its people or their political representatives.

The Shinners should tell Mr Blair: 'It is your police force, you manage them; but understand if they step over the mark we will expose them publicly for doing so and not via back channels and the old boys network so beloved by the likes of Mr Bradley'. (A man who, according to his own words, failed to ask questions because no one asked him to.)

In any case, the interview with Mr Bradley clearly showed these policing boards are powerless window-dressing. Similar police committees are in place in England and no half decent politician would waste their time sitting on them. As Mr Bradley said in a very revealing manner, why bother phoning the Chief Constable when you can telephone the Taoiseach or PM? That statement said it all for me, as it not only revealed the methodology of Denis Bradley's politics, but it also exposed the Policing Board for the toothless body it is. One can only wonder why anyone would consider discarding his pristine green shirt for such a sorry orange garment.





















Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews + Letters + Archives

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

4 April 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Interview with Michael McKevitt
Forum Magazine

Catching the Monkey
Anthony McIntyre

Policing the Status Quo
Mick Hall

John Kennedy

T.W.A.T and the problem with Leopard spots
Eamon Sweeney

Bigotry Imperils the Union
David Adams

'Fury over British PM bigot remarks'
Michaél MhaDonnáin

Then Why Is My Colour On Your Flag?
Derick Perry

Exorcise the Ghosts to Revive the Party
Dr John Coulter

How the Irish Screwed Up Civilisation?
Seaghan O Murchu

Play Ball
John Kennedy

Cumann Frithdheighilte Na h-Eireann - An outline
Fionnbarra O'Dochartaigh

Irish Prisoner Suffering Extreme Medical Neglect in English Prison
Paul Doyle

Profile: Maryam Namazie
Anthony McIntyre

Freedom of Expression: No Ifs and Buts
Maryam Namazie

Manning the Firewalls
Anthony McIntyre

Ulster Muslims' Fury at Web Cartoons
Elham Asaad Buaras

Freedom of Speech index

26 March 2006

Profile: Taslima Nasrin
Anthony McIntyre

For Freedom of Expression
Taslima Nasrin

Muslim News Interviews The Blanket

Who Fears to Speak
Richard O'Rawe

Dr John Coulter

Cartoons and Caricatures: An anarchist take on the cartoon row
Jack White

Taslima Nasrin (2000)
Anthony McIntyre

Who Said
John Kennedy

The Key
John Kennedy

Getting Away With Murder
Mick Hall

Will the Real Army Council Please Stand Up
Geoffrey Cooling

Upcoming New York Events
Cathleen O'Brien

The Letters page has been updated:

Freedom of Speech index



The Blanket




Latest News & Views
Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
Republican Voices