18 January 2006

Daily Ireland Editorial: Unionist hypocrisy on display again

Daily Ireland

Editor: Colin O’Carroll


Here we go again. Just a short time before the Independent Monitoring Commission is due to make its report on the condition of the IRA ceasefire, a senior PSNI officer tells the Policing Board in a private meeting that he believes that the IRA is still involved in ‘organised crime’. And – are you sitting down? – the details of the hush-hush briefing, attended by British Security Minister Shaun Woodward, are leaked to the media.
For his part, the minister has indicated that he’s sticking by comments he made last month when he said that the IRA was no longer involved in ‘criminal activity’.
Like Pavlov’s dog, whose mouth watered at the sound of the dinner bell even when there was no food to be seen, so unionists will fall on this latest intervention by the PSNI as further proof of republican bad faith. Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair’s reinvigorated efforts of late to get the political institutions back up and running asap will have received an early setback.
None of this comes as a surprise or even a disappointment to nationalists and republicans any more – they understand all too well that this is a life and death drama that’s being acted out not on the streets or even in the debating chamber, but in the newspapers and on the airwaves. As is increasingly the case, the unionist electorate will make their minds up on the issue of going into government with Sinn Féin not by what is real, or right or proven, but by what screams out at them from the media.
What’s screaming out at them this morning is that the PSNI has ruled on the ‘criminality’ issue, and as we’ve seen before, unionists will dismiss and even physically threaten their own police force when it says or does something to displease them, but it will invest the PSNI with awesome powers of deductive and detective prowess when it says or does something that gives them another excuse to run away from the future.
For our part, we’d be more inclined to believe the words of the PSNI’s head of crime operations, Sam Kincaid, if the force’s record in proving what it so loudly proclaims was a little more credible. From the Northern Bank to Castlereagh to Stormont, the PSNI has failed time after time to produce the goods.
Meanwhile, it’s pass the sick bag in Belfast again as the DUP displays its very singular idea what turning its back on terrorists really means. The new High Sheriff of Belfast, William Humphrey, has refused to invite Sinn Féin to his installation dinner. He has, however, invited political representatives of the UDA and the UVF. They haven’t merely been accused by the PSNI of involvement in drug-related murders, bombings and co-ordinated street violence – they’ve quite happily admitted it themselves. Be nice to think that somebody, somewhere at DUP headquarters is saying, hold on a minute William. But, this tale of double standards is a story we’ve heard more often than that dog ever heard the dinner bell.

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