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Another milestone reached and passed. Sinn Féin and policing under the new dispensation. May 31, 2007

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Election 2007, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Ulster.

An interesting reflection on what franklittle has been saying about Sinn Féin and the election is perhaps demonstrated by the relative lack of attention given to what, under any other circumstances, would be regarded as a significant event, that being Sinn Féin representatives taking up their seats on the Policing Board.

To be honest I’ve not been terribly exercised by it one way or another since reading the O’Loan Report on collusion and noting tha she said the vast majority of her recommendations had been implemented by the PSNI. That’s progress, albeit slow progress. But that’s not to underestimate the significance of such a move, and the power it holds in all political party constituencies in the North. Nor is it to underestimate the necessity for policing in the North to be clearly accountable, now and in the future. That’s a continuing project.

Alex Maskey noted that:

“We have set ourselves a number of objectives which we intend to deliver through our membership of the Policing Board and the local District Policing Partnerships. These are to ensure a civic policing service, accountable and representative of the community, is delivered as quickly as possible; that the Chief Constable and the PSNI are publicly held to account; that policing with the community is achieved as the core function of the PSNI; that political policing, collusion and ‘the force within a force’ is a thing of the past and to oppose any involvement by the British Security Service/MI5 in civic policing; that the issue of plastic bullets is properly addressed.”

All highly commendable, although cynics might enquire as to the delay. But returning to my original point one presumes that the choreography of this was established so that these events would run parallel to a successful election outcome in the South – perhaps to avoid or minimise the inevitable noises off regarding ‘sell-out’.

With the Southern strategy now in something like ruins such a choreography was moot. But in a way the lack of overt public disagreement with the move seems to indicate that the situation genuinely has changed.

It does raise the question as to whether the dynamic in the South, which might in some respects be put down to an indifference now that the Assembly is running with Sinn Féin participation is also reflected within the six counties by a similar indifference or lack of interest to such events.

Of course one alternative explanation is that even with some of the gloss taken off the SF project by the General Election it seems that in its core endeavours it retains authority.

But that it can come and go with hardly any comment, for or against, is remarkable.





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