Political Progress at Price of Terror; PLATFORM: Vincent McKenna, Human Rights Campaigner

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), September 11, 1999 | Go to article overview

Political Progress at Price of Terror; PLATFORM: Vincent McKenna, Human Rights Campaigner


A lamb to shepherd the tiger of terrorism is how human rights campaigner Vincent McKenna sees the role of the Northern Ireland Police Service as envisaged by Chris Patten. Here Mr McKenna takes issue with the need to reform the RUC, and concludes that it is the IRA which needs to be de-structuredGIVEN the absolute degeneracy of the Government's position in relation to ongoing murder, mutilation, torture and the procurement of arms by the IRA and loyalist terrorists, one can only take with a pinch of salt Mo Mowlam's call for the immediate implementation of the Patten Commission Report on Policing.

The Government has stated publicly that the IRA and Sinn Fein are inextricably linked. Would the Government want a Police Board in west Belfast where Sinn Fein can dictate to the NIPS how the area should be policed?

The Patten recommendations would require the Chief Constable to go to Sinn Fein in west Belfast and explain where and how information was obtained in order to take the action necessary in certain circumstances.

What would have been the consequence, for instance, in the police investigation of the recent murder of Charles Bennett?

The report takes operational independence from the Chief Constable and replaces it with operational responsibility, which means that the Chief Constable must explain his actions to a Police Board. Effectively this means that the Chief Constable would be obliged to report to Sinn Fein.

Mr Patten says he wants to take policing out of politics yet for the first time in 30 years he actually gives control of policing to politicians, two of whom by proportional representation will be inextricably linked to the IRA.

The Patten Report has been compromised by political expediency. Democracy can only succeed if the people as a whole believe that the legal framework of the state can protect their human rights on a daily basis.

What many of Mr Patten's proposals do is ensure that the very people who need protection, because they are subjected on a daily basis to human rights violations by the terrorists, will remain at the mercy of the terrorist godfathers.

Many of Mr Patten's reforms which fall into the politically-motivated category have been arrived at because his commission has fallen prey to the terrorist propaganda machine, rather than the reality of policing on the ground.

In the opening paragraphs of the Patten Report it is stated that it is perception, rather than community involvement with the RUC, that has created the need for change, as is shown by the 63 per cent acceptance rate of the RUC among both Catholic and Protestant citizens - higher than anywhere else in the west of Europe. …

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