exactly did the PSNI expect? That they'd have to storm
the parliament building? That the Education Minister
might revert? The Minister for Health leap from an
alcove after the manner of Xena the Warrior Princess
and have at them with some fearsome weaponry?
days on, the mystery of why the police thought it
necessary to send in a regiment of robocops to pick
up two disks from Denis Donaldson's desk remains as
deep as ever.
happened to "Morning sir, we have a search warrant
here and we'd like to come in and look around..."?
Orde's apology for the "style" of the operation
added to the intrigue.
conceded on Monday that the way his officers had handled
the raid had been "an error of judgment".
But how had a misjudgment of such magnitude been made?
And whose error was it, exactly?
who reckons that these are peripheral considerations
hasn't lent an ear in nationalist districts. Virtually
unanimously, the pictures from Stormont were taken
as evidence that the raid was a put-up job, consciously
intended to project Sinn Fein as a bunch of dangerous
would be a major mistake to underestimate the number
of nationalists who take a dim view of the shenanigans
some Republicans seem to have been up to but who,
nevertheless, are angered and dismayed by what they
see as a PSNI reversion to RUC type.
timing of the raid and of the laying of formal charges
against Donaldson and others has been just as significant
as the style of the operation.
didn't have to be a Sinn Feiner, or necessarily a
nationalist at all, to wonder about the fact that
the Assembly and the Executive had seemed doomed anyway
in circumstances in which the Ulster Unionists would
have been made to shoulder much of the blame, and
to conclude that what changed last weekend was not
the course but the pace of events and the identity
of the party likely to be left looking the culprit
when the inevitable collapse comes.
it have been entirely a coincidence that the 15-month
investigation into alleged Republican intelligence-gathering
came to a head at just the right juncture for Mr.
Trimble? Again, there are many non-Sinn Fein nationalists
who'd take a lot of convincing.
course, there are, too, many unionists who wouldn't
want to come within a barge-pole's length of bigotry
but who take the view that all this is beside the
main point, who hold that the most important truth
to emerge from the weekend was that the trust they'd
begun to put in Republicans has been betrayed.
did they want prison officers' names and addresses
for if they weren't planning to start killing people
that's the question which leaps automatically to mind,
you're unlikely to worry overmuch about the style
or the timing of PSNI operations.
different responses reflect the key contradiction
within the Agreement itself. Although designed at
a rhetorical level to bring people together, it has
operated in practice to push them apart.
it stands - insofar as it stands- it is a scheme for
building and burning bridges simultaneously. It reflects
no dimension of our politics or of our social being
other than that defined by competing religious identities.
It seeks to free us from communal hostility by locking
us into separate communal corrals. It ensures that
debate remains enclosed within each community and
that it focuses more or less exclusively on which
party or strategy will better advance the interests
of one community vis-a-vis the other. It is not a
recipe for reconciliation but for choreographed polarisation.
The future it offers is of muffled enmity.
or whoever precipitated it this time, the crisis in
the Agreement is generated from deep within the communal
politics of this place. We have to begin to think
outside the ideas which box us in.
article also appeared in the Belfast Telegraph.
Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews +
Letters + Archives