motivated raids by the RUC on the homes of those in
nationalist communities are nothing new. Even with
its face lift white jeeps and new PSNI name the RUC
still invades working class areas and occupies houses.
At one time, even if for pure harassment, such forays
were ostensibly aimed at seizing weapons and explosives.
Today there has been a marked shift in emphasis towards
depriving people of the ability to provide alternative
media services. Not only are computers seized with
depressing regularity, but all the means essential
to sustaining a forum for alternative voices not approved
by officialdom are subject to confiscation. These
include mobile phones, computer discs, electronic
organisers, notebooks, letters and cameras.
family home was first raided in February 1972. Since
then all the homes in which I have lived have been
subjected to a similar experience. The promises by
many nationalist politicians that the Good Friday
Agreement would herald an end to this have remained
unfulfilled. Quite often republicans assessment
of the shortcomings of the GFA takes on an abstract
character. Critique is frequently expressed in quasi-theological
terms - the Agreement has transgressed some sacred
and inviolable principle. For most people this means
nothing. Concerned primarily with getting on with
their lives, they are turned off by the obscurantist
and anachronistic purism that that motivates only
the holier than thou - in other words very few. But
when squads of heavily armed RUC men are in your home
- no matter how business-like, civil and courteous
they may be on the day - rifling through your possessions,
confiscating your property, there is no escaping the
awesome fact - they have come out of this conflict
with their power intact and our rights against them
amounts to whistling in the wind. All that the GFA
has achieved is to make them more accountable. But
backed up by a panoply of laws and repressive legislation,
such accountability is a mere irritant for them. The
effort expended over the course of all those years
spent seeking to transform the context in which the
rampant exercise of British state power occurs suddenly
vaporises. It all comes home with a sickening emotional
thud that it was all for nothing. The RUC are still
the raiders and we are still the raided.
way of adding insult to injury many nationalists are
tripping over themselves to treat cop boss Hugh Orde
as a fresh broom eager to clean up the policing question.
Give them a Hughie rather than a Ronnie and the means
to slip comfortably into overdrive self-denial become
self-evident. Yet it is Orde who has become associated
with ever increasing erosions of civil liberties.
While still part of the Stevens investigation team,
he was waging a campaign against the journalist Ed
Moloney who had been making life uncomfortable for
the cops handling the investigation into the 1989
murder of Pat Finucane. Despite knowing the identity
of his killers from the minute the murder took place,
Orde felt it better to target not the killers but
the journalist who was asking the awkward questions.
becoming Top Cop little in the way of intent has changed.
Orde has made it his business to give journalists
a hard time. The incident that most vividly highlighted
his anti-press zeal came with the midnight knock on
the door of Liam Clarke and Kathy Johnston, both of
who were hauled off to police cells for interrogation.
As part of this drive my home has been the latest
for PSNI attention. It was not hit because I am a
republican. Like most others who have any inkling
of what goes on in Northern Irish politics, nobody
in our home is either involved with or gives succour
to the physical force tradition. In fact, without
having given up on our republican beliefs both I and
those I associate with have gone further than most
in rejecting the use of physical force as a means
of addressing the conflict. We have seriously questioned
the wisdom of ever having waged an armed campaign
to begin with.
home was hit because Orde is determined that unless
he ordains otherwise, the business of the public shall
not be made public. He has sought to punish and deter
those writers and commentators who infuse into the
public arena inter alia information that sheds light
on discussions between our politicians or the nature
of the prison regime in Maghaberry.
has tried to promote an image of himself as the non-political
cop who will act impartially when it comes to policing.
This is a nonsense. He can send a large force - in
one account 33 landrovers - to a passive nationalist
estate to search the homes of people not remotely
associated with the use of armed force a mere two
days after they had reported on a protest at Dundonald
House. Yet a year after the loyalist murder of Gerard
Lawlor, despite the RUC openly admitting that it is
aware of the identity of the perpetrators there has
not been one home searched, one arrest made or one
Ordes impartiality balance sheet does not add
up. It does not take a genius to see that he is as
determined to cook the books as his predecessors.
His harassment of writers and commentators makes a
mockery of any claims that we have a new dispensation.
Truly a case that things only changed here in order
to remain the same.
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