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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The PSNI is not representative of society – and that’s a big problem

Posted by Jim on November 8, 2017

“The fact that the police don’t represent society and that its senior officers are overwhelmingly Unionist [Loyalist/Protestant] accounts for the PSNI’s hostility.”

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. November 8, 2017

How do you solve a problem like the PSNI? Seventeen years ago, it emerged as a bright shiny new police service – service, not force – civilians in uniform.

Hopes were high that with unprecedented transparency, accountability and a 50-50 recruitment policy it would develop to be representative of society in The North.

Let’s be clear about this. No one wanted a reliable, impartial, effective, representative police service more than northern Nationalists. They’d never had one. They still haven’t.

The bad news is that all indications are the PSNI isn’t going to become representative of society, isn’t on track to be, and because of that hasn’t managed to treat nationalists or manifestations of nationalism impartially. We’ll come back to that later.

The biggest blow to preventing a representative police service emerging was the success of Unionists in stopping 50-50 recruitment. Unionists [Loyalists/Protestants] don’t want a representative police service, never have, and have worked consistently to prevent one. In one of the many stupid decisions he made, the then proconsul [Northern Ireland Secretary of State] Owen Paterson, a caricature English blowhard about ‘Ahland’[Ireland], mollified his DUP sycophants and abolished 50-50 recruiting in 2011. Of all actions, that one, vindicated Gerry Adams’s description of him as a ‘complete tube’.

In 2015 there were 400 new recruits to the PSNI. Seventy-seven of them were Catholic -19 per cent. Bit of a drop from 50-50 eh? About 200 police leave every year. Increasingly the majority of them is Catholic. Soon we’ll be getting down to around 25 per cent Catholics in the PSNI. Not good. At senior level, it’s far, far worse. You might have read here last year that of the 7,500 or so full-time and part-time officers about 500 were of the rank of inspector or above. Only ninety-two of those were Catholic, probably fewer now. That means about one per cent of the PSNI of the rank of inspector, or above, is Catholic. What’s being done about this disparity? Nothing.

Outside the PSNI in the real world, the Equality Commission requires affirmative action to change that state of affairs. Not in the PSNI. That’s clear neglect by the Department of Justice and NIO but then what would you expect? No nationalists involved. Sinn Féin silent.

The PSNI doesn’t look like The North. The majority of children in school is Catholic. In third level education, 47 per cent of students are Catholic, 30 per cent Protestant and the rest other denominations.

Yet in the PSNI, 75 per cent aremanifestations of Nationalism compared to appeasement of Loyalist manifestations. One example will suffice.

You might have noticed a mild letter in this paper last Friday from a Tyrone GAA fan. He pointed out that after Tyrone won their third All-Ireland in 2008 the cavalcade from Dublin went up through Monaghan where the Gardaí turned out in light-hearted mood wearing false beards, like many of the Tyrone team that year, and waved them on. As the writer said in a telling phrase, when the team crossed the border ‘into OUR OWN COUNTY’, the PSNI stopped the cavalcade to check for tax discs. Utterly disgraceful given the day that was in it. When the difference in the behavior of the Gardaí celebrating the historic win was pointed out, the PSNI threatened to arrest the complainant. Welcome home with Sam Maguire.

In Mid-Ulster where that GAA cavalcade was headed, 66 per cent of the population are Catholic and massively supportive of the GAA. If there’d been a senior Catholic PSNI officer in charge when the winning team entered their own county the reaction may have been different. Maybe not, but that’s another story. The important point is that police behavior that night was not an isolated incident. There are numerous examples of hostile behavior towards people and players attending GAA matches.

In the last week, there’s been a lot of debate about the GAA and the PSNI. There are two sides to the story.

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