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11 March 1999 Edition

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RUC in hiding after N.Y. TKO

By Christy Ward
The Royal Ulster Constabulary won't be taking part in any public displays of charity in New York City next week, after a boxing match at the prestigious Jacob Javits Convention Center in Lower Manhattan was abruptly canceled when grassroots Irish America raised its voice in protest.

The most militarized policing force in modern European history was dealt a technical knock out even before the first bell sounded - put out of the ring by a few old Fenians with a couple of fax machines.

Proving the old saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, Irish Americans came out swinging and delivered one square to the chin of the RUC boxing team, leaving some to ask if there weren't a few glass jaws behind those ever-present riot helmets.

While no one objected to money being raised for a New York City police officer who was seriously injured when he was run down by a drunken driver - the reason for the boxing match - people did object to the most discredited police force on the planet feigning charitable gestures as part of its continuing public relations campaign in North America.

The controversy has died down now, and like so many things associated with the RUC, this one is now shrouded in secrecy, with the members of the NYPD refusing to return calls to reporters.

Two weeks before the match came to light, nearly 200 Irish American activists braved the winter cold of Washington, D.C., to attend a protest outside the White House, calling for the end to shared training between the RUC and the FBI. That protest was organized by the Mairead Farrell unit of Noraid in Virginia.

When word first leaked out that the RUC was to be on the NYPD boxing card, Noraid, the largest republican support group in New York City, issued a press release condemning the RUC's inclusion in the program.

Paul Doris, the national chairperson of Irish Northern Aid said, ``this was a real grassroots effort. Calls were made to people who could exert pressure in the right offices in the city. The Mayor was called, the Police Commissioner was called. In the end, the RUC had to go into hiding,'' said Doris.

Frank Durkan, the noted New York civil rights attorney and chairperson of the Americans For a New Irish Agenda, stepped in, calling the RUC ``the most discredited police force on the face of the earth.''

Other Irish American organizations added their weight to the fight and before the first bell could sound, the RUC were on the ropes.

Irish American business people and members of influential unions also made calls to City Hall, standing firmly in the corner of Irish Nationalists in the North of Ireland who have routinely been persecuted, prosecuted and murdered by members of the RUC.

One New York businessman with roots in Ireland said, ``they'll be lucky if they can find a restaurant in the city now that would even host the RUC for a quiet dinner.''
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