Issue 4-2022 small

17 January 2002 Edition

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Policing bias exposed

The shooting of Daniel McColgan marks yet another low in the squalid sectarian history of the UDA. As the picture of him shows, this was a young man barely entering adulthood. It goes without saying that he was a soft target, but in a situation where 'any taig will do', the sectarian killers have no need to take risks.

Gerry Adams this week pointed out the marked reluctance by the police force and the British security agencies to confront the threat posed by the UDA. Given the history of collusion between the three, this is understandable.

John Reid has been conspicuous in his unwillingness to take on the UDA campaign against Catholics in vulnerable areas, particularly North Belfast. Over the last two years, the UDA has been responsible for almost 20 killings, scores of injuries, over 300 bomb attacks against Catholic homes, churches and property.

The dogs in the street know who is behind the sectarian campaign, yet no one has been picked up to join the unlamented Johnny Adair back in Maghaberry. There have been few arrests and negligible evidence that the RUC/PSNI are anxious to deal with the UDA threat to Catholics.

Against this background, Sinn Féin again came under pressure on Wednesday to take its seat on the policing board, this time from US envoy Richard Haass. He felt it would be better for Sinn Féin to join up to effect change. With due respect, Mr Haass is wrong.

Partisan political control continues to be exerted by the securocrats in the NIO and the former RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan. The baleful influence of the Special Branch and their relationship with the UDA remains intact. What we have is a repackaged RUC.

Sinn Féin spokesperson on policing, Gerry Kelly, has also challenged the SDLP's Alex Attwood to explain why his party was forced to meet with the British government to attempt to get action to deal with the loyalist killing campaign, if the Policing Board could, as claimed, hold the police to account.

The truth is the Board does not have the powers required to ensure the police force is democratically accountable or to investigate the abysmal RUC/PSNI response to UDA violence.

If persuasion is required, it should be directed towards pressing the British government to return to the objective for policing set down in the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Féin will accept no less.

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