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Policing, a Bridge Too Far for Republicans?

Speech

 

Willie Gallagher, IRSP • 27 November 2006

The position of the IRSP in regards to this issue goes beyond the basics of traditional republicanism. What would not have been conceivable in the past has today become a reality. The fact that some republicans, are being asked to support and endorse the PSNI and the judicial system, has become a bitter pill to swallow, within both pro-GFA and anti-GFA republicanism.

For Republicans the PSNI can never be accepted as a legitimate and fully representational police service purely because they are the institution of British law in occupied Ireland.

They serve the Queen and not the people. They uphold British parliamentarian law in this land. They enforce British rule in our island!!

The PSNI, like any other police force in the capitalist world, protects property before people and act as an instrument of the ruling class.

To become representational of the working class of Ireland, any Police Service would be set up by the people and for the people. This can only be completed and implemented within the parameters of a 32 County Socialist Workers Republic Any such Police Service would be supportive of the needs of our communities.

A genuine police force of the people would not favour the investor, the landlord, the oil magnates, the Coca Cola's, the Sellafields, Multi-National Corporation or the rich at the detriment of the poor and the working class. It would exist to uphold public order, to protect the inhabitants of this island from those who would wish to exploit them, and to protect the needs of the working class from the greed of capitalism.

What we stand for


Until we have this system in place, until we have the abolition of partition, until we have the complete removal of the British stranglehold on this islands economy. Until we have the complete removal of the British militarily from this land, until the foreign monarchy imposed upon our people is removed and we are declared a 32 County Socialist Workers Republic, then we are not in a position as republican socialists to accept anything less. Therefore the IRSP will refuse to give any kind of legitimacy to a political police force, the PSNI, or to a corrupt British judiciary. These are the fundamental basics for republican socialists.

Even if partition ended tomorrow support and endorsement for an all-Ireland police force under a capitalist regime would be a bridge too far for republican socialists. Indeed it would!! We only have to look at how the Gardai behaved in the Shell to Sea protests in County Mayo and to whose interests they were really protecting.

But for now let us deal with some of the realities that republicans are asked to face and accept:

Support and endorsement of the PSNI

Support and endorsement of a British judicial system that is anti republican and anti working class

Support and endorsement of a prison service that brutalised republicans for years and even today refuses to recognise the political nature of republican prisoners.

We have been told by the leaderships of both Provisional Sinn Fein and the SDLP that they are currently negotiating the ending of political policing and the removal of MI5. Does anyone here really believe that the British government will capitulate and allow North of Ireland politicians, never mind republican politicians, to have full control of the policing and judicial system? The British will never allow that to happen!!

Political policing will always remain with us whilst partition exists!!!

Only recently our ex-prisoners group, Teach Na Failte, became the latest subject of political policing. Our offices in Belfast and Strabane, as well as twenty three homes, were raided in a blaze of publicity. The TV camera crews arrived at one of the places to be raided even before the PSNI arrived themselves. They seized all materials which we needed to apply for funding and returned the same materials several weeks after the funding deadline had expired effectively closing us down with the loss of jobs and services to ex-INLA prisoners and their families. All of the rest of the materials were returned just less than a year later with nothing of interest to the PSNI being discovered.

The raison d'etre of the PSNI, regardless of whatever cosmetic changes are affected, is primarily, the maintenance and protection of the States interests and enforcement of British parliamentarian law in this land.

During recent years our communities have been bombarded with media hype that we need an accountable policing service, we want an accountable policing service, and we deserve an accountable policing service to combat rising crime and anti-social behaviour in our society.

Will acceptance and endorsement of the PSNI and Judicial system do that? Of course it won’t!! Let’s face reality here, we have never had proper policing since partition and some would say that we have never had proper policing for centuries.

Our community’s s fears are being exploited with a view of pushing the PSNI down our throats as the only alternative. But there are alternatives out there within our communities themselves. Our communities are capable of accepting revolutionary and innovative initiatives if they are participants in its creation and stakeholders in its success. The IRSP may not have all the answers but we do have views on interim alternatives which is a separate debate for another day. .

We recognise that people want civic policing and we have often heard recently, in defence of endorsement of the PSNI, things like what about if Miss Bloggs gets raped should she not go to the PSNI. That is civil policing in which republicans never batted an eyelid, even during the height of the conflict, when people choose to use the RUC/PSNI in cases like that. We have no problem with people using the existing police force on issues of so-called ordinary crime. We do have a problem when that same police force use criminal’s death drivers and drug dealers as informers on republican activists.

Let us focus a bit on crime and would acceptance and endorsement by PSF and the SDLP of the PSNI and judicial system have any impact on the issues that arise from this.

We need look no further than the Free State where all the major parties, including PSF, accept the Gardai as the legitimate police force of the 26 counties. What impact has this had on the spiralling crime rate, the drug barons who are flooding working class areas with heroin, the feuding gangsters, the contract killers, the corrupt politicians and of course the criminal activities of some sections of the Guards themselves. The answer is no! There are very few 'white collars' in Portlaoise, Maghaberry or for that matter in any of the prisons in England.

The prisons are full of those from working class communities. Acceptance of a police force in itself does not necessarily equate with the successful combating of crime particularly in a capitalist society.

We should not fall victim to the simplistic analysis of acceptance and endorsement of a police force equals order and safety. This is further evidenced in the fact that the RUC and PSNI were/are accepted, supported and endorsed in Protestant and Loyalist areas yet they suffer the same, if not worse, social and economic crimes and anti-social behaviour.

We have also been told by the SDLP, the Irish and British governments and indeed from the PSNI that we now have the most accountable police force in the world. But we are still waiting for them to account for their past collusion with loyalist death squads, we are still waiting for them to account for their many crimes committed against the republican/nationalist community, the torture and false imprisonment of many republican activists and of course an account from the judiciary for their decades of perverting justice via the Diplock courts.

We have yet to have even an acknowledgement on the torture of republican prisoners in the Cages and H-Blocks. Only recently the revelations of the activities of police agent and UVF Commander Mark Haddock suggest that the PSNI are still involved in the murders of its citizens since its name change from the RUC. The PSNI won’t even make public 'The Stalker and Stevens reports' into collusion. MI5 won’t even acknowledge there past presence in the North never mind their murderous activities nor have they commented on their collusion into the importation of weapons from South Africa or their prior knowledge of the murder of human right solicitor Pat Finucanne.

Who here believes them when they say their presence in Ireland is to protect us from so-called international terrorism? Who is going to protect us from MI5 and CIA terrorism? Yet we are being asked to believe them when they say they are the most accountable police force in the Western World.

Republicans cannot solve the policing issue by becoming the police within this corrupt and unaccountable system. We should tackle the issues and not try to effect cosmetic change within a British controlled and irreformable model of policing. To recognise the PSNI as the legitimate police service of the North of Ireland is recognising Britain’s right to rule a part of Ireland. We cannot bow to the pressure of making a hasty and ultimately counterproductive decision on these issues.

The endorsement of the PSNI and Judicial system has the potential to set back or completely derail any radical change. It also has the potential to assimilate republicans into the institutions we are committed to replacing. It would be a massive republican misjudgement to do so. We will only become a part of the problem not the solution.

To sum up we must keep our republican integrity intact and refuse to endorse the judicial system and the PSNI as the legitimate legal forces of the North of Ireland.

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Index: Current Articles



3 December 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Forensic Framework Unravels
Martin Galvin

RUC Killing of Irish-American To Become Issue in New Congress
Fr. Sean Mc Manus

F's All Around
Dr John Coulter

Loose Ends
John Kennedy

The People of No Principle
Geraldine Adams

Policing, a Bridge Too Far for Republicans?
Willie Gallagher

Conway Mill Debate
Anthony McIntyre

Not Too Late for a United Front
Mick Hall

Afraid of the Voice of the People
James Bradley

Ideals Live On
Dolours Price

Liberalism
Ray McAreavey

Poetry in Motion
Lord Falls

Michael Pebble
Anthony McIntyre

Action Required to Stop Bullies
Dr John Coulter

O'Shea is Right on Aid Policy
David Adams

Ministerial Own Goal
Anthony McIntyre

‘Beyond the Veil: Perspectives on Muslim Women in a Western Secular Context’
Maryam Namazie


19 November 2006

The Bogeyman
Anthony McIntyre

Believe It Or Not
John Kennedy

Contra Con Artists
Anthony McIntyre

The Wrong Kind of Republican?
Ivan Morley

Equality Agenda: British Rhetoric and Reality
Martin Galvin

A Deal Done By Quislings
Mick Hall

Realignments
Dr John Coulter

Deadline? Pull the other one!
David Adams

Political Policing
Martin Ingram

It's Not The Taking Part
Anthony McIntyre

Who Can Get Dr No to Say Yes?
Dr John Coulter

Equality or Equity
Michéal MháDonnáin

Federalism
Michael Gillespie

Revolutionary Unionism
Dr John Coulter

Who Needs Enemies
John Kennedy

The King's Threshold
Robin Kirk

 

 

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