25 January 2007 Edition
Collusion report adds urgency to policing debate
This week’s devastating report by the Six County Police Ombudsman confirms that collusion was an institutionalised practice involving the old RUC Special Branch, British intelligence and unionist death squads.
For many years republicans pointed out that collusion was an instrument of British policy in Ireland. This was rejected by the Irish Government, SDLP and the Irish media establishment who denied its existence.
Nuala O’Loan’s report is just the tip of the iceberg. Collusion between British state forces and unionist death squads was not confined to North Belfast. The full truth about collusion has yet to be uncovered.
Nuala O’Loan’s report adds urgency to the debate on policing at next Sunday’s Extraordinary Sinn Féin Ard Fheis. It shows clearly one of the reasons why Irish republicans must take ownership of the accountability mechanisms Sinn Féin has secured in policing.
Sinn Féin must hold the police to account to ensure that no police officer can engage in collusion and strive to uncover the truth of the squalid activities of the RUC over many years. It is a major and pressing political responsibility.
The policing debate is extremely challenging and difficult for Irish republicans. But all republicans must remain firmly focussed on the objectives of our struggle. Any decision we take must be judged in the light of whether it can take us closer to a united, independent Ireland and social justice for all our people.
The strategy pursued by republicans for some considerable time now crucially involves building political strength across the island of Ireland, popularising republicanism and mobilising greater numbers of people, North and South behind our objectives. It is this context in which we must approach the issues of policing and justice.
Huge progress has been made on policing and justice issues through successful political negotiation and the Sinn Féin leadership is confident that we have achieved a starting point, a basis in which a new beginning to policing can be achieved and the Good Friday Agreement implemented in full. In this context we can move our struggle closer to its objectives. Whatever happens this weekend republicans must remain united as we advance together towards our goals.