|Monkey see, Monkey don't!!!|
Over the past few weeks I have been reading how preparations are under way for centenary celebrations to mark the 100thanniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. These celebrations will involve immense effort, well choreographed utterings, as well as ongoing efforts to unify Quislings, Republicans and Dissenters under one banner, however whose banner it is, is definitely questionable.
What I have found interesting, but not surprising has been the level of revisionism. The Free State Government released a video 'Ireland Inspires 2016', which had no mention of the executed signatories of the Proclamation, but did feature the British Queen, Ian Paisley, David Cameron, and the arch devil & tax exile himself 'Bono'. Sinn Fein not to be outdone at their recent Ard Fheis held in Derry had local shinner Gerry McCartney appealing for British Royals and member of the British Government to be allowed to attend Easter Rising commemorations, as not to embarrass the Sinn Fein leadership.
But I digress, I was talking about revisionism, I wonder if at any point during these celebrations someone will take time to mention how 2016 will also mark the 40thanniversary of the British criminalisation policy in Ireland? On March 1st1976 Merlyn Rees, then British Secretary of State for 'Northern Ireland' ended Special Category Status in the North of Ireland. Special Category Status for convicted paramilitary-linked prisoners gave them the same privileges previously available only to internees. These privileges included free association between prisoners, extra visits, food parcels and the right to wear their own clothes rather than prison uniforms. This proposal came from Lord Gardiner following a proposal to end internment in 1975. The criminalisation policy consisted of a refusal to give recognition to the political situation in the north with politically motivated actions from this point forward regarded a criminal acts.
The criminalisation policy saw the restructuring of the criminal justice system, an increase in harsh interrogation measures, with the RUC permitted to act with virtual impunity and an increase in Diplock court hearings in which the onus was no longer on the court to prove guilt but on the accused to prove innocence. This policy placed the British government in an environment in which they could not be held to account for their use of violence and abuse, from their torture of the Hooded Men, to the support provided to Loyalist Murder squads and the shoot to kill policy the British state protected itself in legislation and positioned itself as a 'good guy' keeping the warring muck savages apart, well apart from a few 'rotten apples' in the ranks. A further consequence of the criminalisation policy is that to this day ex-prisoners, including those identified with the period known as 'the troubles' are still unable to gain employment in many professions.
Today the criminalisation policy is still alive and well and is evident through the regular harassment of republican activists and their families this is is happening in communities across the North. This has been shown over a two day period in the Creggan area of Derry where a young family and older woman living alone have been subjected to heavy handed and intrusive raids on their homes. The raid on the young family, had an estimated TWELVE PSNI landrovers, TWO bomb disposal units and a Helicopter.
The next night, and only a few streets away the older woman, a well respected 'unpaid' community worker who had her home invaded faced six PSNI Landrovers, a number of plain clothes PSNI personnel and the entire proceedings were watched from above by a Helicopter. One of the most disconcerting things to come out of this raid is that the uniformed search team was made up all male officers, just to search the home of an older lady who lives alone.
I can't see the same level of force being used if the Mass Murderers from the Parachute Regiment who butchered innocents in Ballymurphy and on Bloody Sunday are ever arrested, can you?
I'd like you to take a minute and imagine how you would feel if your elderly mother had her home ransacked by a tribe of men wielding guns? This woman became unwell during the raid and needed medical attention.
You would expect elected representatives from local political parties to be up in arms and vocal in their concern, well in any 'Normal' society you would. The truth is only 1 local Councillor, was at the scene of the raids to offer support, Councillor Gary Donnelly.
With the PSNI effectively the RUC through the back door we must question why those who promote them to be something different have remained silent, particularly when members of the community continue to bear the brunt of their heavy handedness. The PSNI tactical support teams by-pass the oversight of local policing partnerships and the Policing Boards. With no independent oversight these groups are free to enter communities in an intimidatory fashion, ransack homes yet are accountable only to the Chief Constable.
After heavy handed PSNI raids last year, Sinn Fein Councillor Colly Kelly said 'As we have said in the past if the PSNI do a good job we will support them but that would also hold them robustly to account.' Last year, SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey raised issue with the PSNI about how they conduct their searches. But here's the rub, Pat Ramsey and Councillor Kelly should consider this, how can they hold people to account who are only accountable to the Chief Constable? The two of them would be better in Quigg's fruit shop straightening bent bananas, I reckon they'd have more success, as to date I have heard nothing of the response they received from the PSNI.
The PSNI claims to be involved in “impartial and accountable policing” adding that they are “Open and transparent in line with overriding Human Rights or legal obligations”. Yet a unit within the PSNI remains free from public scrutiny, independent oversight and condemnation from apologists in both the Assembly and a local Government level.
One of the main barriers that the PSNI faced when they morphed from the RUC into the PSNI was that the RUC was known as a sectarian force, 'whose members were overwhelmingly from the Protestant community'. When carrying out some research for this blog I came across a Freedom of information response published by the PSNI asking about the religious/ethnic & gender breakdown of the 'Tactical Support groups'. But I'll not tell you what I think of their response, I'll let you make your own mind up, when you read it here.
I am still awaiting to hear that a member of any political party has called to visit those who suffered in the recent raids, in which I must add nothing connected with 'terrorism' was found. I'm still awaiting even a public statement from the political parties which represent the Creggan area to condemn these raids.
Then again these political parties hold positions on the The Derry Policing and Community Safety Partnership 'which recently hosted a delegation from the Myanmar Police from Burma as part of a fact-finding visit to Northern Ireland.' This is the same Myanmar Police which actually receives training from the PSNI and is internationally known for its corruption and human rights abuses. Amnesty International which says nothing about human rights abuse in the North said the PSNI needs to reconsider its involvement in the country (Burma) and called on the Chief Constable to be more “transparent”.
The European Union has sanctions against Burma, I'm just wondering if the political parties and representatives on the Derry Policing and Community Safety Partnership have checked to make sure that there has been no violation of these sanctions. Although memories of Raytheon and weapons manufacture come to mind, I'm sure they'll let us know.
With these facts in mind should we expect anything in terms of condemnation for recent events in Derry from local representatives? It would seem our 'politicians' are hypocrites, I repeat hypocrites, so much for promoting peace!