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Deja Vu

Mark Devenport | 12:46 UK time, Monday, 4 April 2011

It felt almost like a reconstruction of the events two years ago. Then, outside Stormont Castle, the First and Deputy First Ministers had appeared alongside Hugh Orde and Martin McGuinness delivered his memorable line describing dissidents as "traitors to the people of Ireland".

Today the rain meant the show of solidarity took place indoors. There were a few other tweaks to the choreography - Northern Ireland now has a new Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, and a local Justice Minister, David Ford. But the intention was the same - to send out a message of unity and strength. Martin McGuinness called the dissidents' campaign a "useless war against peace" - not quite as catchy as his previous quote but it got the message over just the same.

The politicians didn't want to be drawn on what divides them - for example, the decision by the Secretary of State to drop the rule requiring the police to recruit equal numbers of catholics and non-Catholics. Unionists campaigned for 50/50 to be dropped, nationalists thought it premature. But the First Minister regarded it as irrelevant to the weekend murder, whilst the Deputy First Minister insisted that young Catholics would not be deterred from joining the police in the future.

On Inside Politics yesterday Margaret Ritchie also said she wanted to avoid making political points. But under questioning the SDLP leader reiterated her opposition to dropping 50/50 and questioned the advice which she thought "securocrats" had been giving to the Secretary of State Owen Paterson before he made his decision.

This morning the Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott condemned Constable Kerr's murder as senseless. But he insisted that some mainstream republicans, including politicians in government, "know who these people are" and should be doing more to provide evidence. Martin McGuinness says anyone with information should give it to either the Garda or PSNI. But the Ulster Unionists don't appear convinced, pointing out that the Sinn Fein Minister Michelle Gildernew recently gave the former IRA member Gerry McGeough a reference as he awaited sentencing on an historic crime. They accuse Sinn Fein of sending out "mixed messages".

On top of this, Ronan Kerr's murderers struck during an election campaign, posing the parties with dillemmas about how best to respond. Both the DUP and the SDLP postponed campaign events due to take place today, whilst Sinn Fein pressed ahead with an event at Belfast's Waterfront Hall insisting that the dissidents must not be allowed to set the agenda. There are also indications that some politicians weren't happy that this morning's appearance alongside the Chief Constable didn't include all the main party leaders.

So there are differences over the details - but the rejection of violence and a determination to press ahead with peaceful democratic politics encompasses all the main players in this Assembly election campaign.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I think the 50/50 rule is good on one hand (equality and suchlike) but on the other, we shouldn’t have to ask “What religion are you?” for same purposes. I think it irrelevant. NI, or perhaps this little swathe of people carrying out these bombings, etc, need to grow up. Really, I like to think we've moved on.

    The horrible, disgusting thing is that N. Ireland is still seen by many outside here as a place of fighting and killing, even though the Troubles are long gone- an English friend of mine admitted this to me, “Many of my own friends won't go to Ireland because of the bomb threats, etc.” I simply gave her my weary response of, “We don’t do that any more...” I don't like to lump the whole country in with these idiots but you see what I mean.

    It doesn’t matter what you are or who you are; if you want to help protect N. I, that is a good thing and you should not be punished for it. Having said that, perhaps the politicians who know more than they're letting on should... I wonder why Ms Gildernew gave Mr McGeough said reference...?

    We need to put these people in jail, no?

  • Comment number 2.

    People who are totally commited to peace should be standing along-side
    Martin McGuinness-

    part-time peace lovers matt baggot and peter robinson support the r.a.f bombings in
    libya- they are for bombs in libya yet against the bomb in tyrone?- you either support peace in 2011 or you don't

  • Comment number 3.

    Dropping the 50/50 recruitment policy was and will be proved to be a bad idea. I watched Stephen Nolan's recent apologist piece on the Unionist death squad known as the 'Shankill Butchers' and found Jimmy Nesbit's (head of CID during the murders) 'performance' very telling. Notably his descriptions of Lenny Murphy as a 'cunning boy' and of the murder scenes as 'places of execution'.

    The 'quality' of the RUC investigation, into what was then the most prolific gang of UK serial killers, speaks volumes on the need for representative policing.

    I also note the lack of outrage and condolence from this blog's Unionist readers. It would seem that a murdered Northern Irish police officer doesn't sting quite so much when that person attends a different Sunday service.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00zx9x2/Shankill_Butchers/

  • Comment number 4.

    Wolfe Tone

    The last paragraph of your last post is a telling tale of the contribution from unionists to this blog. They are at present hiding their heads in the sand. When the sun rises in July, they will be here in their dozens defending the rights of antagonistic sectarian organisations to force hatred and bigotry upon people who just want peace. I'm sure these people still read the blog, it's a pity they have not the courage to engage in debate.



  • Comment number 5.

    Once again a tragic event projects Northern Ireland's image all around the world.
    The 50/50 rule is and never has been an issue for joining the police. Catholics and Protestants have always had the same opportunity, the republican terrorist threat in the catholic community was a defining factor. All the Politicians need to get off the fence and let the police and judiciary do their jobs. This country of ours needs to get away from blaming each other, its only with brave men like Ronan Kerr that it will go forward.

  • Comment number 6.

    2. At 15:25pm on 4th Apr 2011, michaelhenry wrote:
    "part-time peace lovers matt baggot and peter robinson support the r.a.f bombings in
    libya- they are for bombs in libya yet against the bomb in tyrone?- you either support peace in 2011 or you don't"

    And if we hadn't bombed Gaddafi's tanks as they were about to enter Bengazi, one million people in Bengazi would have been in very real danger of being massacred, just as Gaddafi had promised.

    Surely you don't support Gaddafi and his plans to massacre the people of Bengazi? Assuming you do not, how else could we have stopped him? As it was we nearly left it too late.

  • Comment number 7.

    busby 2- has the same mind-set as the dissidents- to kill without thinking- don't you
    know that the war-mongers in the brit army were kicked of the streets of IRAq-

    the brit army dissidents just know defeat after defeat who are they to tell other countrys what do to- see the brits have also sold out the gurkha regiment-

  • Comment number 8.

    Good to see Di(L)D, MH et al keeping the debate entirely on track by having a pop at Unionists, "the Brits", Libya, Iraq etc.
    I'm a "Brit" and a Unionist so I will, as Di(L)D requests engage in the debate.
    Constable Kerr was a Catholic; so what? He'd passed the recruitment process and showed an inordinate amount of courage and commitment to the people of Northern Ireland, and that is the important thing. Background, especially religious background is, and should be, irrelevant. I firmly believe that recruitment should be on merit and suitability for the post, and that no discrimination - religious, gender, sexual orientation, race, whatever - is justified or justifiable. You don't end discrimination by introducing more discrimination so no to 50-50, all women shortlists etc just simple, totally transparent recruitment policies. It's not rocket science.
    Constable Kerr's death was a tragedy and not least for his family, especially if it succeeds in its obvious aim of deterring people from Catholic/Nationalist backgrounds from joining the PSNI. It becomes a tragedy for all of us who want a police service that truly represents this country. The Nazis who want to be able to parade the PSNI as a "Protestant/Unionist" service by killing those who don't fit the bill, must not be allowed to succeed. If that can be prevented then it would be a victory for those of us who want a normal country to live in and would mean Constable Kerr's death is not an empty tragedy.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hear, hear.

  • Comment number 10.

    7. At 01:39am on 5th Apr 2011, michaelhenry wrote:
    "busby 2- has the same mind-set as the dissidents- to kill without thinking- don't you
    know that the war-mongers in the brit army were kicked of the streets of IRAq-

    the brit army dissidents just know defeat after defeat who are they to tell other countrys what do to- see the brits have also sold out the gurkha regiment- "

    michaelhenry: May I first remind you that this is a blog about the cold blooded and disgusting murder of constable Rowan Kerr, a man who died serving his community.

    You responded by a snide comment against the unionists who condemned the murder of Rowan Kerr by comparing it with their support for the action in Libya.

    When I pointed out that the bombing campaign in Libya was to protect a million people in Bengazi from the very real threat of being massacred by Gaddafi's forces, your response was to change the subject yet again, this time to Iraq!!!

    Not only don't you care about saving lives in Libya (a sad state of affairs in itself), it seems abundantly clear that your particular mind set is concentrated solely on finding some reason to attack "the brits" at every turn. Perhaps that makes you happy but that mind set doesn't make NI and the island of Ireland as a whole a happier and more peaceful place.

  • Comment number 11.

    May i first offer my sincere condolences to the kerr family.Roman wasa very brave and decent young man,who was trying to make this place better for everyone who lives here.the people who did this dastardly deed do not want a police force for all.they do not want a police force at all!,they would like to turn this place into another gazza strip,where they rule and the rest of us pay!!one way or another.i would also like to give my fullest admiration to the good people of derry,for going out with their paint brushes,in the daylight and covering the awful graffitti that was put up by the rats of the night. Let not Ronan's death be in vain!may the good decent people of this island unite,against these evil beings.........

  • Comment number 12.

    #8 Dave

    I'm glad you have made a contribution. This blog needs more unionists to engage in debate. It's a pity that it takes provocative posts from myself, eyeswideopen1 and Wolfe Tone to encourage you to contribute and not the matter within the blog entry. Like I said in #4: It's a telling tale, and that it is. See you in July!!!



  • Comment number 13.

    Of course unionists are outraged by the killing of Ronan Kerr. Goes without saying. The murder of anyone: police, army or civilian is unjustified.

  • Comment number 14.

    @#8 Dave

    With respect Dave, I feel your analysis and understanding of the purpose of positive discrimination is superficial and a little confused. Your statement that no discrimination is justifiable, will not impress the triage nurses who work in A&E departments and who have to routinely 'discriminate' with regard to which patients receive treatment first, the NHS trust managers who must discriminate against patients who want breast enlargements in favour of children with leukaemia or those people who assign disabled parking rights who discriminate against the non-disabled.

    With regard to recruitment and political selection, yes a candidate with a first honours degree is superior to a candidate with a (ii)1 honours degree but if the second candidate is female and there is a requirement that women are represented in the political process and they are woefully under represented, then gender does become a matter of merit.

    It was estimated (somewhat vaguely) that with the then current recruitment rates, it would take 'several generations' before the number of Catholics/Nationalists in the police service was representative of their number in the community.

    Your alternative is for the Catholic/Nationalist population to live with discrimination (in terms of representation, I am not attacking the police service itself) for generations. Or for women who pay their taxes and are not represented in politics, to wait for this broken system to somehow magically fix itself.

    You are wrong when you say that we do not end discrimination with more discrimination. By your logic, Oxfam should distribute the funds they collect evenly to the citizen of the world. They do not. They discriminate because they know that the only way to combat the discrimination of poverty is with the equally discriminatory process of charity.

  • Comment number 15.

    # 14 wolfe tone

    The real Wolfe Tone was a Protestant. Would he have wanted a united Ireland where jobs were allocated on quotas or would he have wanted one in which everyone competed on merit, not on what religion they belonged to?

  • Comment number 16.

    #12. Di(L)D. Perhaps if the posts were less provocative, less along the lines of "It's the Brits fault" whatever today's "it" is, then there would be more debate. Cuts both ways, of course, there's not much point deriding that style of posting and supporting "It's all the fault of the shinners" type of posts. I try to do neither.

    #14.Wolfe. If my logic is superficial and confused, then I'm afraid yours is convoluted and obfuscatory.
    Medical triaging - in a hard-pressd A&E, it literally is a case of medical "merit" i.e. the most serious cases get seen first. So the principle - the best person for the job gets it - is actually the same whether the "job" is a post with the PSNI or the next available bed. To compare the decisions medical staff have to make in terms of who does and does not get treated, to the basis of recruitment to a government agency is simply to take my comments (which were entirely about recruitment) and apply them to a totally unrelated context for what looks like simple point scoring. Similarly the crack about Oxfam. I assume the principle on which Oxfam distribute funds is related to the degree of need - again, a selection process based on "merit" and again, nothing to do with what I was saying.

    Nor am I saying that the system will "magically fix itself". Far from it. The causes of Catholic/Nationalist under-representation in the PSNI are several fold, including discriminatory recruitment practices and an ingrained feeling (see the article about dissidents in Lurgan) that the police are an arm of the "Brits" and, therefore, the enemy. To say these things will take time to work is not to accept them, far from it. The police recruitment process needs to be rigorously fair and needs to be seen to be so. Recruitment should come from all parts of the community - if people feel that joining the police is right for them they should do so regardless of background - and targetting those who do join the police should be vigorously opposed. My point is that discriminating in favour one section of the community (e.g. Catholics/Nationalists or women, to use your other point) in favour of another is simply that. Discrimination rather than merit. There is no such as positive discrimination, only negative discrimination. The actions required to end the mindset of generations may indeed take time to work out, but favouring one group of people over another in recruitment for the police solely because of the background of that group of people does nothing to end that mind set, neither does selection on any grounds other than merit make for the high standard police service we'd all like to see.

  • Comment number 17.

    @#15 busby2

    I can't answer your questions about the 'real' Wolfe Tone but here is a quote;

    "...and we do call on, and most earnestly exhort, our countrymen in general to follow our example, and to form similar societies in every quarter of the kingdom for the promotion of constitutional knowledge the abolition of bigotry in religion and politics, and the equal distribution of the rights of men through all sects and denominations of Irishmen."
    Wolfe Tone.

    It is clear that he valued equality in society. I feel he would have seen the previous 50/50 recruitment policy of the PSNI as a necessary mechanism to redress a long standing, institutionalised discrimination.

    He may have been happier with a United Ireland or a Northern Ireland, where important institutions such as the police were recruited through the merits of their members and not their member's associations with a church, political party or Loyal Order. This however was not the situation that the Patten Report found. The purpose of the reports recommendations was to 'fix' this problem, not to just stand and point at it, mutely.

    You have a problem with 'quotas', yet seem quite content to accept a Police Service that was staffed almost entirely by one side of a polarised community.

    Perhaps you are also someone who did not grow up in NI during the conflict and believe that it was the SF/IRA murders of police officers that stopped Catholics from joining the RUC. Ask your Catholic/Nationalist/Republican friends about this. I assume you have some.

  • Comment number 18.

    "Perhaps if the posts were less provocative"

    The truth is a hard pill to swallow. Anything I post, I back up with evidence and links. That is why the old regular unionists don't post. I have continually proved them wrong on many a topic; I have continually shown their views to be contradictory and one eyed. I have twice now in a matter of weeks shown that unionists will only post when provoked. When the sun comes out in July, this blog is awash with Orange apologists. Facts are facts. Put your views forward and let's have a debate. What happens currently, is that unionists shout the usual toot from the sidelines, then hide. That is not debate!


  • Comment number 19.

    Just on the issue of 50:50 recruitment within the PSNI. I found this article on Gerry Adams' blog. I thought I would share it with the readers of the Devenport Diaries. It's title: Policing- "... representative of the society it polices"

    "This blog has written to the British Secretary of State, Owen Patterson setting my view of the review he is conducting into 5050 recruitment of the PSNI. The concern of this blog is that he is doing this at the behest of the unionist parties who have stridently opposed 50:50 from the outset. Given Patterson’s close links to the unionist parties and his efforts to construct a unionist electoral pact prior to the last Westminster election between the UUP, DUP and Orange Order, these concerns are justified.

    "Policing reform was one of the great challenges of the peace process. It took years of hard work and very difficult negotiations to get republicans and nationalists to the point that we could feel confident about endorsing the policing arrangements. One of the key elements of the new arrangements was 50:50 recruitment. This is an affirmative action programme in the recruitment of the policing service. It has its roots in the Good Friday Agreement 1998 which set as the goal for policing a “..new beginning to policing ... with a police service capable of attracting and sustaining support from the community as a whole.” The Agreement stipulated that a new policing service should be “...representative of the society it polices.”

    "The Patten Commission recognised that in the interests of efficiency and effectiveness as well as achieving fairness and representativeness : “the police service ... needs to include appropriately large numbers of nationalists, including republicans, if it is likely to be full effective.” In order to achieve this Patten concluded that the 50:50 recruitment model was necessary for at least a ten year period. The Patten Commission made no recommendation that this should be time-limited or that the recruitment of PSNI civilian staff should be exempt.

    "But now this important element of the new policing dispensation is under threat by the British government. Currently Catholics only make up 30% of officers in the PSNI. This is an important distinction. Because the NIO refuses to apply 50:50 to civilian workers employed by the PSNI the 30% is an inflated statistic and Catholic representation in the PSNI is actually lower.

    "Moreover, nowhere in the Patten report does it claim that the height of the Commission’s ambition should be a proportion of officers of 30% for Catholics. In fact, the Commission made clear that if all of their proposals for change in recruitment practices were adopted, “the figure (of Catholics) after ten years would be 40%” The Patten Commission made it clear that any decision about the future of affirmative action in recruitment procedures can only be made in the context of the prevailing circumstances and the objective evidence. Patten states: “In light of the recruitment experience and other developments between now and then, a judgement would need to be made as to whether special measures were still needed to achieve a police service representative of the community....”

    "According to the 2001 census the percentage of the population in the north who come from a Catholic background was 43.8%. The next census is due to be held next year and it is predicted that this figure will continue to rise. The proportion of Catholics within the total PSNI workforce is substantially less than this. This inequality remains particularly pronounced in the civilian PSNI staff with less than 20% of Staff members coming from a Catholic background.

    "The phasing out of 50:50 recruitment provisions would reduce the number of Catholics joining the PSNI and impact badly on the need to ensure that the PSNI reflects the society it polices. The figure of Catholic representation within PSNI Officers (cited as 29.38% ) also disguises the fact that there is extreme under-representation of Catholics in the higher ranks of the PSNI. Catholics are mainly located at the rank of student officers and Constables. Only 15% of Sergeants are Catholic, 14.5% of Inspectors, 13% of Chief Inspectors, 10% of Superintendents and 16% of Senior Officers.

    "In addition, of those 132 officers who have left the police, having been recruited between 1 January 2001 and 31 December 2006, 40 (i.e. 30%) were Protestant, 89 (i.e. 67.4%) were Roman Catholic and three were non-determined. This prompted the Equality Commission to seek information from the PSNI about the retention rates of Protestant and Catholic officers and to propose that the reasons for differential retention rate should be further investigated. The Criminal Justice Inspectorate noted this with concern and made clear that these were of critical importance to the success of arrangements to ensure that the PSNI became representative.

    "The composition of the PSNI is manifestly not representative of the whole community. The inequalities and underrepresentation of Catholics is especially pronounced in the middle and higher ranks of the PSNI and civilian policing staff. No evidence has been generated to indicate that the PSNI now “include appropriately large numbers of nationalists, including republicans...” as recommended by Patten.

    "Given the available evidence, and the importance of ensuring that progress to a new beginning to policing is made irreversible, this blog believes, and I have told Mr. Patterson this, that there is no objective basis for the withdrawal of 50:50 recruitment provisions in 2011."

  • Comment number 20.

    busby 2- If you read the blog again you will see that the u.u.p leader tom elliott said that Sinn Fein were sending out mixed messages over different killings- my reply was that if any-one supports bombs in libya but oppose the one in tyrone-they are the ones sending out the mixed message-

    Wolfe tone was a presbyterian- and in his bold days both presbyterians and catholics had to suffer under the brit penal laws.

  • Comment number 21.

    #20 michaelhenry

    Wolfe Tone was a Protestant barrister. Read T.W. Moody and F.X. Martin's 'The Course of Irish History' pages 190-203.

  • Comment number 22.

    @#16

    Dave, your 'Daily Mail' attack on the principle of positive discrimination is very tired. I am left with two possible views of your position.

    a. You can see there was a problem with a police service that had been recruited almost exclusively from one side of a polarised community, you have a solution but you don't want to share it.

    or

    b. You don't actually think there is a problem with how the old RUC was recruited or structured and even if there was a problem, you don't think anything should have been done to solve this problem.

    My mistake was thinking that you had a problem with positive discrimination but I now think that what you have a problem with, is the fact that the unrepresentative nature of the RUC/PSNI required a concrete and immediate solution. Like almost everyone who attacks positive discrimination, you have a vested interest in the existing discrimination that it intends to correct.

    So which is it Dave? Do you have a cunning plan or do you just not give a damn? What is your alternative to positive discrimination?

    What you seem unable to even consider, is that when faced with a highly discriminatory recruitment or selection process, any suitable candidate that reduces the discrimination, IS the best, most meritorious candidate.

    We are not dealing with a situation where semi-literate Catholics were given jobs over the heads of Protestants with Masters Degrees in criminology, as some people would like to suggest. All candidates met the entry requirements but those who came from a Catholic/Nationalist background were seen as more meritorious by the PSNI, the government of NI and the UK government, up to the 50% of new recruits level. It was time for the PSNI to put it's house in order. No one suggested that this would be a permanent recruitment policy.

    The Catholics who were recruited by the PSNI, via the 50/50 process got their jobs on merit. A merit decided by both the management of the PSNI and the people of NI, via the Patten Report and the Good Friday Agreement. This might be a 'merit' that you choose not to agree with. You like everyone else, had your day at the ballot box.

    One interesting suggested alternative to the 50/50 recruitment policy was to disband the RUC/PSNI completely and install a hybrid police service recruited from multiple mainland UK constabularies. Do you think that was a better idea? Personally I don't. But you don't have a solution because, let's face it, you don't believe there was a problem in the first place.

    We are at the end of this process now Dave, not the start. The 'quotas' have not destroyed NI, they have just put some bigots noses out of joint. Nearly 30% representation in the police service for Catholics has made a positive difference to everyone who lives here.

  • Comment number 23.

    Nationalists claiming that 'positive' discrimination is acceptable because they were negatively discriminated against in the past... It all sounds very similar to the arguments the Israelis use...

    Discrimination, whoever is perpetrating it and whoever is on the receiving end, should be intolerable to any right-thinking person in Northern Ireland today.

  • Comment number 24.

    #20 michaelhenry

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] for more info on Wolfe Tone and the events that ocured after the revolutionary period.

  • Comment number 25.

    michaelhenry

    Sorry: This article!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    @#20 michaelhenry & @#21 DinD

    Tone was a member of the Church or Ireland. Many of his fellow founders of the United Irishmen were indeed Presbyterians and the dynamic, revolutionary, humanitarian zeal of that movement, was born out of the Presbyterian church and it's core nature.

  • Comment number 27.

    Here's another article from the same research website. Chapter ten deals with the United Irish men, but overall it's a good informative read.

  • Comment number 28.

    Wolfe Tone

    Leaving aside for one moment the discrimination against recruting catholics to the police force before the Peace Agreement, I think you will admit that Catholic members of the RUC were a particular target of PIRA for cold blooded murder during the Troubles. That in itself guaranteed the domination of the RUC by Protestants, didn't it?

    It takes time to change all that and it may well have been the success of increasing the numbers of catholic members of the PSNI from 10% to 30% that motivated the evil men behind the disgusting and cowardly murder of Ronan Kerr to plant the bomb that killed him. Those evil people, and their supporters, who murdered him want to keep the communities divided and to threaten others like Ronan Kerr from the Catholic community from joining the PSNI.

    Every Unionist voice I have heard has condemned the killing and by doing so has shown solidarity with Constable Kerr and his family. Equally SF have condemned the killing. That unity is a really positive step.

    As for quotas, I don't think it is good idea simply to recruit someone because he/she is a Catholic, or a Protestant for that matter. The PSNI needs good people like Ronan Kerr from both communities to join the service.

    This brutal killing is an attempt to prevent good candidates from the Catholic community from applying and the danger to the 50/50 recruitment policy that you support comes from hard line dissident Republicans, not Protestants.

  • Comment number 29.

    @#28

    busby2, you are right that the PIRA relished any chance to murder a Catholic member of the security forces because it gave them some opportunity to claim they were not sectarian and somehow (I could never see it myself) different from the UVF/UDA and their random sectarian violence.

    However, I don't think that these killings had any major effect on the recruitment of Catholics into the RUC. It didn't stop that many Protestants and they faced the same threat.

    The imbalance is much older than that and has more to do with the culture of the old RUC. An organisation defined by it's institutionalised sectarianism. Plus the reality of living in the 'old 'Stormont' Ulster. Where the Unionist Prime Minister could make highly sectarian speeches and be applauded by huge crowds.

    Life inside the RUC for a 'Token Catholic' was very difficult. They faced discrimination in terms of career development, inclusion or even acceptance from fellow officers, whos personal sectarianism was allowed to go unchecked.

    It would be nice to blame this situation on the mad bombers from the 1970s but it really is a much older problem and like those mad bombers a 'monster' that we all created with our sectarianism.

  • Comment number 30.

    @#29

    Wolfe Tone

    It had been the intention when the RUC was first formed that the force would be one third Catholic, in line with the Catholic population of NI at the time. However throughout its existence, republican political leaders and Roman Catholic clergy urged members of the nationalist community not to join the RUC, so the shortfall was met by employing A Specials. In other words, the RUC as a mainly Protestant organisation was largely the result of a deliberate Republican and Catholic Church led boycott.

    Most of the original Catholic members of the RUC were former members of the Catholic Royal Irish Constabulary, refugees from the South who had been prime targets for murder by the IRA.

    I am not in a position to comment about the level of discrimination against Catholic officers in the RUC. However I doubt that discrimination was universal judging by the Catholics who achieved high rank in the RUC. Wiki lists include RUC Chief Constable Sir James Flanagan KBE (Derry), Deputy Chief Constable Michael McAtamney, Assistant Chief Constable Cathal Ramsey, Chief Superintendent Frank Lagan as well as RUC Superintendents Kevin Benedict Sheehy (Glengormley) and Brendan McGuigan. Not many, I know but the highest rank was not out of reach.

    Sir James Flanaghan was Chief Constable from November 1973 to April 1976. Having been targetted by Republicans when attending Mass - no surprise there - he was forced to retire to England.

    Sir James was the son of an RIC Sergeant. He was therefore following family tradition by joining the police. Sadly, with few catholic members to start with, joining the RUC was never that much of a family tradition for Catholics.

    Sectaranism was not a one way street. Both sides practiced and supported it. There is now a real chance to break down sectaranism provided everybody unites against the hard line dissident republicans, and their supporters, who murdered Ronan Kerr.



  • Comment number 31.

    Busby2

    "It had been the intention when the RUC was first formed that the force would be one third Catholic, in line with the Catholic population of NI at the time. However throughout its existence, republican political leaders and Roman Catholic clergy urged members of the nationalist community not to join the RUC, so the shortfall was met by employing A Specials. In other words, the RUC as a mainly Protestant organisation was largely the result of a deliberate Republican and Catholic Church led boycott.

    "Most of the original Catholic members of the RUC were former members of the Catholic Royal Irish Constabulary, refugees from the South who had been prime targets for murder by the IRA."

    And of course you can back these ridiculous claims with evidence and links??? And please, no Wikilies please!!!

    As Wolfe Tone said already, discrimination in the police force in Ireland goes right back to the Metropolitan Police of the early 19th century. They actually came about during the time of the push for Catholic Emancipation, and were, as they were until this century, used to coerce anyone involved in this campaign, and to uphold the will of the Protestant Ascendency in Ireland. Catholics were not wanted in any Irish police force under British rule, until Catholics stood up to the orange state and forced the hand of the British. Let's say it as it is and stop apologising for previous sectarian bigotry. As recent reports from the Police Ombudsman and the Coroner conclude: The RUC were not fit for purpose; it's a good thing to see the back of this coercive organisation, who didn't want a Catholic about the place!

  • Comment number 32.

    #22.
    "My mistake was thinking that you had a problem with positive discrimination but I now think that what you have a problem with, is the fact that the unrepresentative nature of the RUC/PSNI required a concrete and immediate solution. Like almost everyone who attacks positive discrimination, you have a vested interest in the existing discrimination that it intends to correct."

    Sorry Wolfe, you couldn't be more wrong. I know the police service needs to be more representative of the whole community. I know a solution is needed. Where you're wrong is that I DO have a problem with positive discrimination. I don't think it exists - all discrimination is negative. And before you start confusing this with selection criteria for a post let's be clear, I'm talking about the application of selection criteria other than those required to fulfil the duties of the post. I don't believe a catholic/nationalist police officer would be any better or worse than a protestant/unionist police officer - religious background should have no bearing on ability to do the job and should not, therefore, be part of the selection criteria. To do otherwise is discriminatory, and sends a clear signal to all parts of the community that discrimination is still ok, still enshrined in law, still something that should be practised when someone feels the need.
    Yes the gender, religious and ethnic etc. composition of the PSNI should reflect the community that it serves, no problem with that at all. Neither with the fact that it doesn't at present and that it needs to be addressed. My problem is with the method by which this is achieved.
    Daily Mail? Never read it, never will. Don't judge me

  • Comment number 33.

    I wrote

    "It had been the intention when the RUC was first formed that the force would be one third Catholic, in line with the Catholic population of NI at the time. However throughout its existence, republican political leaders and Roman Catholic clergy urged members of the nationalist community not to join the RUC, so the shortfall was met by employing A Specials. In other words, the RUC as a mainly Protestant organisation was largely the result of a deliberate Republican and Catholic Church led boycott.

    "Most of the original Catholic members of the RUC were former members of the Catholic Royal Irish Constabulary, refugees from the South who had been prime targets for murder by the IRA."

    #31. At 00:44am 6th Apr 2011, DisgustedinDERRY replied:


    “And of course you can back these ridiculous claims with evidence and links??? And please, no Wikilies please!!!”


    Actually I think it is for you to prove that your view is correct.

    You may not like it but it is a fact that initially one third of the places in the RUC were reserved for Catholics.

    It is also a fact that pressure was put on Catholics from within the nationalist and catholic community not to join the RUC, just as I said in my post.

    It is also a fact that the lack of sufficient recruitment from the Catholic community arising from pressure from within the Catholic community played into the hands of the Protestants as the force then became dominated by Protestants. That seemed to be what both sides wanted as any Catholic who joined the RUC would no longer be very welcome in his community.

    That wasn’t the case with the RIC, particularly in the years up to 1914.

    You wrote:

    “Catholics were not wanted in any Irish police force under British rule, until Catholics stood up to the orange state and forced the hand of the British”.

    It gives me great pleasure to prove that your prejudices are without foundation.

    Here's the percentage of RIC members who were Catholic, with the last 2 years cited being exclusive of officers (source: The Irish at Home and Abroad, Vol 4 No 1):
    01 Jan 1841 51%
    01 Jan 1851 64%
    01 Jan 1861 69%
    01 Jan 1871 70%
    01 Jan 1881 73%
    31 Dec 1890 73%
    31 Dec 1900 74%
    31 Dec 1910 77%

    Next time rather that simply demand sources, do your own research and don’t rely on long held prejudices.

    Whilst you are about it why not take a look at the names on the roll of honour of the RIC? A list of the 500 m

  • Comment number 34.

    Busby2

    I did my own research and found what you claim about the make up of the RIC to be correct. Correct in the sense that it is what is written on the RIC website. It still does not take away from the fact, that after partition, Catholics were not wanted in the new Northern Ireland. They were barred from jobs offered by the state; RUC jobs at that. While there might have been jobs set aside for Catholics, in reality, the Unionist Party and the Orange Order influenced who got these jobs. That is the cold hard fact of the matter. I don't know if you have heard of it, but there is a new book out, and it gives the account of the Catholic RUC men who served in this corrupt and sectarian organisation. They (most of them) were not wanted by their families; given the treatment of the Catholic community by the RUC, is it any wonder. They were not wanted by a number of their Protestant colleagues; they suffered sectarian bullying; they had to listen to sectarian attitudes from not only the officers but their superiors who were virtually all Protestant.

    Luckly for the Catholic population of the six counties, brave men like John Hume and Martin McGuinness stood up to such sectarian organisations like the RUC, the UUP, and the Orange Order. Now we have a situation where all are welcome in the PSNI at officer level. Things have to go further. If you look at the information from Gerry Adams' blog that I posted, Catholics are under represented in the higher ranks of the PSNI, and also the civilain workers within the PSNI.

    The times they are a changing, and changing for the better. This is all down to the courage of the Catholic population in Northern Ireland. Just like 200 years ago when Daniel O'Connell was looking for equality, so are people like Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams in this century. It's a fitting tribute to the British government, that after 200 years of campaigning for equality, Catholics in Ireland are finally getting what they deserve. Even though they still have a long way to go; we're getting there slowly but surely. let's hope it doesn't take another 200 years!

 

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