When writing about the murder of Constable Carrol in Craigavon and British soldiers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar at Mazareene barracks in Antrim one of my reasons for totally condemning these murders was that Northern Ireland was in a new era.
I was quite clear what I thought about those who had taken the lives of these three men.
I wrote that these delusional “guerrillas”, confusing means with ends, were trapped in a previous historical period.
Any of the ,highly debatable, justifications for the use of arms in Northern Ireland circa 1970 were all totally and utterly gone in 2009.
One of the key components of that new dispensation was that the old RUC was a thing of the past and that the new policing service ably led by Hugh Orde was a model of modern enlightened policing.
Subsequently today when Northern nationalists claim that they do not enjoy the protection of the police, although that claim may have had some validity in the past, it is a piece of self-pitying victim hood.
The days of the police attacking innocent people like Mr. Devanney in a sectarian attack or idly looking on as a nationalist was battered to death a la Robert Hammil was entirely a thing of the past.
The PSNI has no ex-“B” Specials in their ranks and their 24-hour a day job is the protecting of everyone in Northern Ireland regardless of their background.
That was my firm view of policing in Northern Ireland until this week.
Now I’m not so sure.
Up until the Murder of Kevin McDaid I was rooting for the PSNI 100%.
At any opportunity when discussing such matters with people in the Six Counties who didn’t like the new policing arrangements I would say:
“Are you saying that they are just then the old bigoted RUC with a new uniform? I’m not buying that one! You’re living in the past because that is a comfortable place for you. The past is full of old certainties. The world has changed, this place has changed for the better and the police service here is part of that change.”
Now, in a similar conversation, I would be quieter, more reflective. I don’t know if the strident pro PSNI me was wrong, I just don’t know. I have to be, however, susceptible to evidence.
The evidence of Mr.McDaid’s murder suggests that the nice new PSNI and the bad old RUC might not be that different.
There seems, at the very least, a case to answer that the PSNI officers on the scene did very little as Kevin McDaid was being battered to death by the mob of Rangers supporters.
Kevin Myers, always abrasive, always readable described those who murdered Mr.McDaid’s as:
“Worthless sub-fascist idiots of lumpen-proletariat Protestant Ulster..”
Regarding the less than heroic behaviour of the two PSNI officers who, allegedly, witnessed the mob of Rangers supporters attacking Mr.McDaid Kevin stated:
“the two peelers scarpered when the loyalist scum arrived, leaving the latter to kill Kevin McDaid at their leisure. (Imagine the outcry if some poor Protestant thugs had been shot dead, while about their traditional tribal hobby of Fenian-hunting?)”
“Better that an innocent civilian be butchered, than a policeman kill a psycho-simian or two.”
Kevin advocated that the PSNI officers should have drawn their legal weapons and interrupted these Rangers fans in full flow by shooting a couple of them dead.
This, of course, did not happen, that much is certain.
In his Independent column Kevin analysed why police officers faced with a mob armed with cudgels battering a man to death chose to in the words of Assistant Chief Constable Finlay “ withdraw”.
Kevin’s main thesis for PSNI inaction on the day in Coleraine is that the Patten reforms had so neutered the police force in Northern Ireland that faced with a Rangers mob murdering Mr. McDaid they withdrew to get their paperwork in order rather than draw their weapons on, as Kevin calls them, a “psycho-simian or two.”
Of course members of the RUC looked on while Robert Hammil was kicked to death by a loyalist mob in Portadown.
After this horrible murder members of Mr. Hammil’s family had to endure taunts from loyalists in Portadown town centre anytime they ventured there.
When these thugs would see a member of Robert’s family they would shout: “Robert Hammil ha ha!” and jump up and down on the spot emulating what had been done to Robert.
A dance then emerged in loyalist drinking clubs across Northern Ireland called “ the bouncy”.
The “bouncy” is often performed at Ibrox.
Many Rangers fans will not know the genesis of this piece of fascist performance art, but many of them from Northern Ireland will be in no doubt as to the origins of “the bouncy”.
Kevin’s argument about the gun shy PSNI falls to pieces when one looks at the behaviour of the force in recent years.
In 2007 the PSNI fired shots attempting to apprehend two men in the nationalist Ardoyne area of Belfast.
The PSNI have discharged their firearms to take life in the course of their duty as evidence here in the death of Neil McConville in 2003.
Some have said that the two officers witnessing a rage filled mob of Rangers fans intent on murder should have drawn their weapons and fired warning shots to scare off, as Kevin Myers would style them, these “psycho-simians.”
Once more there is evidence that this has happened in the past with PSNI officers firing warning shots to good effect: