Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

21 November 2002 Edition

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Garda Omerta a step too far

As we go to print on Wednesday night, Sinn Féin TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh is set to call on the Minister for Justice to hold an emergency Dáil debate to discuss the urgent need for policing reform in the 26 Counties.

This comes in the wake of a damning report from the Garda Complaints Board citing the failure of Gardaí to cooperate with the probe into the May Day disturbances in Dame Street, when members were captured on film lashing out indiscriminately at protestors and passers by. More then 30 gardaí face disciplinary proceedings following this very public display of brutality, but not one guard could be found to identify other members.

He will also be making his call against the backdrop of a tribunal of inquiry into Garda corruption in Donegal, which has already heard the most outrageous allegations. He will argue that the terms of reference for that tribunal are too restrictive to get to the bottom of one of the most scandalous episodes in the history of the Gardaí. Of particular interest to republicans in this regard is the killing by loyalists of Donegal Sinn Féin Councillor Eddie Fullerton at his home in 1991

ó Snodaigh will reiterate Sinn Féin's position:

There cannot be substantial policing reform in the North while the increasingly obvious crisis in the Gardaí is ignored.

The Garda Complaints Board, which has been more of a rubber stamp than any kind of guardian against garda wrongdoing, must be scrapped.

The Gardaí need to regain public trust and introduce accountability.

To that end, an independent policing board and a garda ombudsman, the immediate introduction of the long promised videotaped interviews and human rights training for all gardaí are essential.

The Short Strand

The residents of Short Strand have been highlighting the failure of the PSNI to protect their community for weeks. The mainstream media has largely ignored their voices but this week at least, the Irish News broke ranks and dared to speak out.

"The idea that hundreds of people from other parts of East Belfast should be allowed to assemble in Cluan Place, where only a handful of homes are occupied, is impossible to justify," it stated.

The paper also found it hard to understand "how petrol bombers, explosive devices and even guns can be used with such regularity at the same location without a series of arrests to follow".

As in the case of Holy Cross, the operational decisions of the PSNI, their apparent reluctance to protect another Catholic community and their seeming inability to confront violent unionism, has become the single most important factor in the ongoing sectarian attacks in East Belfast.

It would take very little to end this pogrom; unionist politicians speaking out against unionist paramilitary violence; media exposure breaking the 'tit-for-tat' smokescreen; a decision by the PSNI to afford northern nationalist communities equal protection or a British government determined to face down unionist rejectionism and its bloody manifestations.

Nationalist Ireland is watching and waiting.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1