We believe it is disingenuous in the extreme for SDLP, Government representatives and so-called Independents on the Policing Board to claim self-righteously (as does for example, Eithne McKeown, Chair of the SDLP District Executive) that 86% of Patten has already been implemented.
The cosmetics only are in place.
The reality is that two-thirds of the police personnel are old RUC, including those guilty of the worst collusion in innocent Catholic murders and not one will ever be held accountable much less serve time for their crimes. Though Republicans represent more than a quarter of the population, they have not one known representative on the police force. Catholics, who are some 46% of the population, have less than 20% representation and much of that not native Irish at all!
Nor are they likely to have, given Councillor Jimmy McCreesh’s ‘reassurance’ in this week’s press.
‘Sinn Fein are not going to act as recruitment officers for the PSNI. Sinn Fein will however not stand in the way of young Nationalists and Republicans who seek to join the police force.’
In plain language, this means they are determined to have the worst of all worlds, compelled to continually prove their support without having any real influence on the implementation of policies.
Sinn Fein naively assert that joint sovereignty will immediately follow, given the DUP’s failure to share power in March. This enormously momentous constitutional shift will be implemented, we are supposed to believe, by a lame-duck Prime Minister intent on rescuing something positive from his ten years of autocratic premiership.
The real consequence of refusal to go into government in March will be ever more fudge. How could a government claiming to be democratic ignore the results of an election just as soon as it is over? And abandon a whole generation of politicians to oblivion? I think not! Nor will a Fianna Fail government facing its own election within months take such a risk. The DUP know all this and will continue to play hard-ball for months to come.
Meanwhile we have the problem of MI5 continuing to operate without democratic accountability, a policy position that Sinn Fein are curiously proud to have effected. As Eithne McKeown in her letter to the paper this week pointed out:
‘Any experienced negotiator will recognise the significance of the word ‘may’ in Tony Blair’s assertion that ‘the Police Ombudsman may have access to information held by MI5, where this is necessary to the discharge of her duties’. And who will decide if the information is necessary? Who else but MI5.’
More than twenty years of intense negotiations have achieved very little indeed on the policing front: the continuation of political policing, starkly revealed since Sinn Fein’s momentous decision to support them; plastic bullets and tazer guns; fortress police barracks; the almost complete lack of effective community policing; under-representation of Catholic, Nationalist and Republicans etc. etc.
Curiously we hear no one campaigning in these elections against the imposition of Water Rates, an issue that fuelled the anger of every party until late. Why? It’s a done deed, effected by Hain while the politicians fudged.
I fear we are condemned to similar autocratic rule for some time to come.