Issue 4-2022 small

30 July 1998 Edition

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RUC irreformable

Recommendations by the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on the future of the RUC will be deeply disappointing to nationalists. The report amounts to nothing more than a failed attempt to restore the RUC's tattered image internationally.

The authors of the report did not address the glaring issues of concern in relation to the RUC, such as collusion with loyalist death squads, the leaking of countless intelligence files to the UDA and UVF, the Stalker/Sampson enquiry, the Stevens report, the United Nations report on RUC intimidation of solicitors and the plethora of investigations by human rights groups condemning the RUC.

The fact remains that the Royal Ulster Constabulary is an entirely discredited organisation among the nationalist community in the Six Counties, to a majority of people in the 26 Counties and among informed opinion across the world.

It has been exposed over the years as a partisan force in the conflict in the Six Counties and has been associated with political assassination, torture, sectarian harassment and numerous cover-ups.

The problems with the RUC are not that of imagery, they are real problems requiring real change. They will not ameliorated by ending the flying of Union Jacks on RUC barracks on the Twelfth of July or by preventing new recruits from being members of the Orange Order. Sectarianism is endemic within the RUC. Indeed the force was established and has operated as an armed Unionist militia. One only had to listen to the Orange Order's Grand Master, Robert Saulters just two weeks ago decrying attacks on ``our'' police force.

As a force created to defend the Orange state against the realisation of Irish nationalist aspirations, the RUC has naturally been imbued with an anti-nationalist ethos. It can never be acceptable to nationalists. It can never operate as a force serving all sections of the community equally and respecting all traditions. It is inextricably linked to one particular political tradition and is associated with everything that has been wrong with the Six County state. For those wrongs to be removed so must the RUC. Yet the House of Commons Committee refused even to recommend a name change for the force.

The report will be submitted to the Independent Police Commission which is to be established as a result of the Good Friday agreement. If the Commission adopts the minimalist approach represented by this report it will have failed in the critical task of creating ``a new police service that can enjoy widespread support from, and is seen as an integral part of, the community as a whole'' as stated in the Good Friday document.

Orange reactionaries

It was perhaps too much to expect the Orange leopard to change its spots. The Order's Grand Master, Robert Saulters, may be the sort of indecisive, disorganised leader who will never be able to move his organisation out of the Dark Ages, but his apparent call for dialogue with residents offered a glimmer of light.

The snuffing out of that light a few days later perhaps shows the real Orange Order. And shows that it will be a long time before the Orange Order will be a force for positive change.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1