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13 April 2000 Edition

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Bauble for RUC bigots

Victims' relatives protest



As Neilly Rooney stood in silent protest outside a rainswept Belfast City Hall on Wednesday, 12 April, the British monarch, Elizabeth Windsor, arrived at Hillsborough Castle, the residence of the British Direct Ruler in Ireland, to bestow the award of the George Cross on the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).

``This award is made to recognise the collective courage of all those who have served in the Royal Ulster Constabulary,'' read the citation accompanying the medal. Neilly Rooney was, by his protest, opposing a reward to the force which in 1969 shot dead his nine-year-old son Patrick as he lay in his bed.

No one was ever charged or convicted for this murder.What was ignored by the establishment media when they shone their spotlight on the `courage of the RUC', was the fact that this force has been responsible for the death, wounding and torture of thousands of nationalists since its inception in 1922.

Indeed, no other European police force has been cited for human rights abuses as often or to such a degree as the RUC and as recently as last week, the European Court of Human Rights decided to examine the British government's shoot-to-kill policy, carried out in large part by the RUC.

Today's presentation to the RUC has to be seen in the context of the Patten Report into policing in the North. This `sweetener' is meant to help unionists swallow the proposed changes contained in Patten. It is also a political reward for those ``good and faithful servants'' whose job it has been to defend British interests in Ireland.

No one should be fooled by the claim that the RUC fought to defend democracy. It fought to uphold an undemocratic state, built on gerrymandering, and in defiance of the democratic wishes of the Irish people.

More recently Peter Mandelson, again at the bidding of a section of a Unionist minority on this island, suspended the Executive and other institutions set up after the vast majority of the people of this island voted for the Good Friday Agreement. This is the form of democracy the RUC has sought to defend through its repression of the nationalist community in the Six Counties.

It is immaterial to Irish republicans what British baubles are given to the RUC by Elizabeth Windsor. What nationalists will oppose is any British government attempts to rehabilitate a discredited paramilitary police force in the North and to backtack on their responsibilities under the Agreement to facilitate a new beginning to policing based on true justice and equality.
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