Archive | May, 2014

Policing, the rule of law & political interference.

4 May

As the furore grows over the behaviour of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (#PSNI) & it’s treatment of the President of Sinn Fein, Gerry #Adams a few points occur to me.
1) during the #gardagate, #penaltypoints & #shattergate controversies here in ‘The South’ the undercurrent was that the close relationship between politicians & our police force was unacceptable & that a police force ‘bending’ the rules to what it saw as the wishes of the political powers that be & politicians seeking/expecting special treatment from the police were equally reprehensible.

2) the police force should be free from interference to carry out investigations as they see fit & that for persons from the outside to pressure the police force in order to affect the conduct & direction of an investigation was unacceptable & a relic of a servile past.

3) the PSNI & its oversight set-up were the example for us to follow in overhauling/modernizing An Garda Siochana. Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald & Pearse Doherty were among the foremost advocates of this approach.

4) fast forward two weeks & because the police force in question, the PSNI, have behaved in a perfectly legal manner in performing it duties with respect to a notorious murder case by arresting the President of Sinn Fein various senior figures within Sinn Fein have gone on the media to denigrate & influence the behaviour of the PSNI, claiming dark deeds & dodgy conspiricies. The threats made have included a return to the previous state of affairs pre-Good Friday Agreement & a withdrawal of consent.

It must also be pointed out that the PSNI has an independent policing board to which it is fully accountable & Sinn Fein has seats on the board & the deputy leader of Sinn Fein is the Justice Minister in the Northern Assembly. Thus one assumes that not only does Sinn Fein have avenues to hold the PSNI to account for its conduct, presumably the PSNI is aware of this also. However Sinn Fein have chosen NOT to follow the legal route & support the system. Instead they have reacted emotionally, in a manner guaranteed to inflame passions in the North & increase the likelihood of civil unrest rather than seeking be a force of moderation & Democratic processes.

Also one assumes, unless some members of  the PSNI have a “death wish”, the inclusion of Gerry Adams in their investigation & indeed the conduct of all investigations into such sensitive topics would be scrupulously conducted within the rules set down.

It would appear that what we are witnessing is quite simply a belief in the old “exempt from the rule of law” system of certain people within Irish society & casts very real doubt on the acceptance of certain sectors of the “Republican” tradition to a free & fair system of policing & justice and casts significant doubt on just how deeply Sinn Fein are committed to power sharing & normal Democratic legal systems.