11 October 2007 Edition
Independent scrutiny of PSNI fails first test
The events of the past week in relation to policing accountability highlight very serious issues which must be addressed immediately.
Last Thursday morning independent scrutiny of the PSNI by the Police Ombudsman faced its first most fundamental challenge and it failed. The killing of Neil McConville by the PSNI in 2003 was exonerated by the office of the Police Ombudsman, despite her office’s acknowledgement that the relevant police evidence had been destroyed by the PSNI and that key eye witnesses within the force had been retired, making them beyond reach for questioning by the Ombudsman. That the office of the Police Ombudsman decided to publish findings on the killing of Neil McConville in those circumstances runs contrary to all expectation of rigorous accountability. In our view she could and should have stated that a conclusion could not be reached because of direct interference with her office’s ability to carry out an effective investigation. We believe that Article 2 of the Right to Life has been fundamentally breached in the killing of Neil McConville and in the investigation which followed.
The same Thursday night the Chief Constable Hugh Orde showed his contempt for democratic accountability by ignoring the human rights advices and direction of the Policing Board and deciding to deploy Tasers. He has also disregarded the best advices of Amnesty International, the Children’s Law Centre and Save the Children. By so doing he is acting totally contrary to the spirit and intent of Patten. His comments that society must accept a weapon of torture in the form of Tasers or run the risk of being shot dead like Neil McConville are despicable. Our society does not face a Hobson’s choice in military technology or tactics. It faces a much bigger challenge in securing effective human rights based policing for all which ensures we never return to the dark days of unaccountable and bad policing.
Our society is only beginning to emerge from the days of shoot-to-kill and the use of plastic bullets. Many of us, including the victims of bad policing, gave our support to new policing on the basis that those days were over. We will not accept a return to the days of bad, unaccountable policing or malpractices that everybody, especially the Chief Constable, knows inevitably will lead to conditions in which the unlawful use of force is facilitated and the loss of life potentially exists.
Relatives for Justice.
Gael, poblachtach, sóisialaí, ealaíontóir, agus cara mórchroíoch, ba ghallán fírinne é Deasún i measc bhréaga agus chur i gcéill lucht cumhachta (go háirithe i measc lucht a cheirde féin, lucht na meán). Ba bhile neamhspleách agus b’eiseamláir chumhachtach é; threabh sé a iomaire féin, beag beann ar an bhfaisean ba dheireanaí. Ba chomhluadar léannta, fíorspreagúil, spleodrach, spraíúil a bhí ann freisin. Shaothraigh sé an Ghaeilge labhartha agus scríofa mar uirlis chumarsáide nua-aoiseach, mhuiníneach don saol atá ann anois, agus chreid go hiomlán go bhféadfaí í a athbheochan. Ba chrann taca é ag lucht na Gaeilge agus ag aon ghrúpa a bhí faoi chois. Chaith sé a shaol i mbun gnímh ar son na Gaeilge agus an Phoblachtachais, agus d’íoc go daor as; chaith sé féin agus Lucy, agus a gclann, blianta fada anróiteacha i mbun gníomhaíochta ar son a mic, Osguir, a cúisíodh san éagóir agus a cuireadh i bpríosún. B’fhear prionsabálta é i saol neamhphrionsabálta, fear a sheas an fód nuair a ghéill an chuid is mó dínn, fear nár chaill an misneach riamh. Ba é, mar a scríobh an file Gaidhlice, Ruaraidh Mac Thòmais faoi laoch eile: ‘an ìomhaigh tha cumail smachd air na h-ìomhaighean-bréige’ (an íomhá atá ag coinneáil smachta ar na híomhánna bréige). Ní dhéanfar dearmad air ná ar a chroí mór cróga flaithiúil spraíúil.
MÁIRTÍN Ó CADHAIN.
As a member of the Labour Party, I read the article “Rabbittes journey to The Right”, which featured in An Phoblacht dated 30 August 2007, with great interest.
The basis of Robbie Smyth’s article is that “Rabbitte spurned opportunities to harness grassroots Left unity in Irish Politics”.
Like Robbie, I am keen to see such opportunities grasped.
However, Robbie seems to expect things of the Labour Party that he does not expect from Sinn Féin. I agree with him when he says that Labour should spurn alliances with the right and seek to build a Left-led alternative. But the construction of a left led alternative is not just a business for the Labour Party. As your readers know well, Sinn Féin made clear its willingness to enter into coalition with either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil in advance of the last general election.
I think we can legitimately aim for a Left-led coalition and rally round that objective. But it is unfair to criticise Labour for being willing to enter into government with right wing parties as a junior coalition partner, while remaining silent on the willingness of Sinn Féin to do so.
I look forward to continued debate and discussion on these matters.
All the best.
Dublin Labour Party.