October 23, 2002
In Mr Hugh Orde's country, England, police would be forbidden to invade Parliament.
In Dublin the police cannot detain anyone on his or her way to or from parliament.
Mr Orde seems not to have brought with him the English tradition of police protecting parliament, but accepted the British unionist tradition of the police attacking political enemies whether in parliament or out of it.
For that he and his Scottish friend Mr John Reid must be held responsible. The traditions these people have accepted in Ireland have nothing to offer to Irish democracy.
On the contrary, if we want to do what the European dictators did, browbeat elected representatives, arrest and imprison them, and demonise a whole people while allowing a free hand to thugs who support your government, then we have just the regime that will achieve this for us.
It is no excuse to say that Orde is helplessly driven by elements in his police who are resentful
It is no excuse to say that they have pushed him in the direction in which he is now going.
- of his appointment and
- of any changes which the British government may make in policing.
A head of police must be strong enough to resist that. And it is no excuse to say that Reid is forced to ignore what his government's supporters are doing in the streets – even killing other supporters – in order not to inflame the unionists. Unionists get inflamed as a matter of everyday policy.
It is long past time for the unionists to be told that if they do not behave in mature fashion there is no place for them in any government. Even a "poor wee timorous beastie" of a man could tell them more than Reid has told them. And so it will remain if we have a head of police under the thumb of an old, discredited force, a secretary under a clerically controlled unionist thumb, a British prime minister hiding behind a Bush, how could you expect anything but sloppy indiscipline at best and fright at worst?
Why is it that the political parties most under the thumb of clerics – the DUP and the Orange-clerical UUP – are always the most unbending and vicious towards others and even towards each other? Is it because they follow an old testament "law" inherited not from God but from Hamurabi the Babylonian? Political Christianity is no longer just a nuisance to us, it is a menace.
As has been pointed out here many times, any person anywhere in the northeast of this country can be arrested at will by the police, held without help of lawyers and put in prison at any time.
These powers which European dictators were cursed for having are now in the hands of English and Scottish administrators and clergymen in Ireland. In the past we called these Penal Laws. Nowadays they are normal.
All they need do is invade your home, find an alarm clock, a telephone directory, a roll of adhesive tape, a laptop, all of which can, like your Aunt Mary's woolly hat, be of use to terrorists. Years ago they used to find out what specific political opponents were doing, make it illegal and arrest them. Nowadays they look at what everyone is doing, make that illegal and arrest anybody.
That, along with their police invading an elected Assembly building and their other atrocities would be the envy of any tinpot dictatorship anywhere. And to have the support of the churches for it all is an added bonus for them.
Of course if the church leaders did not support the regime in Ireland's northeast the British government would persecute them too, so you can see why they do it, apart from the money. It is time non-governmental church leaders were told either to protect their own people and act against bad government or lose all our support.
The present miserable hypocrisy by the clerically-led DUP and UUP is meant to bring down the Assembly in such a way as to blame republicans. Ahern wants to keep the northern institutions but destroy Sinn Féin. The SDLP want to do the same – but is it possible?
The clerically-led unionists want to reduce Catholics to powerlessness either as an eliminated people or as a people doing the worst or no jobs, with no access to information about the corruptions of the state. The British want to get stable government in the north of Ireland while destroying Sinn Féin. The DUP wants to defeat the UUP just as heartily as the SDLP wants to defeat republicans. There is a power struggle inside the PSNI in which for the moment the old RUC is winning and Orde is losing.
Meanwhile people are suffering as usual and those who most strongly oppose decent government with power sharing are extremely well heeled lawyers, clergy etc who will always survive with large incomes whether the Assembly rises or falls and even if the Shankill falls from its present poverty to an even greater future misery.
This article appeared first on the Irelandclick.com web site on October 10, 2002.
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