Thursday, September 01, 2005


Thursday Thoughts: All-Ireland police force

One of the things I would like to see on this island is an all- Ireland police force. I think it would be a very useful step and would prove quite successful. I think it would also increase the likelihood of a United Ireland as it would show that the North and South can cooperate very effectively.

As you will know by now, there has been a spate of attacks in Ireland's north recently, particularly at the hands of loyalist paramilitaries attacking innocent Catholics.

Amidst all these attacks, one thing has seemed very apparent to me - we need an all-Ireland police force. I see there was a major conference on Wednesday in Dublin for the International Police Association (IPA). It was to mark the 50th anniversary of the foundation of its Irish branch. Around 8,000 of the country's 12,000 gardaí are members of the IPA. I think it would have been the perfect time to discuss the possibility of formulating a 32 county police force. To at least throw the idea out there. As I've mentioned, there have been a number of events recently which have led me to believe this move is highly appropriate:

- The spate of loyalist attacks on Catholics. Clearly Catholics question the PSNI and their ability to get control of the loyalist paramilitaries. In July we had this incident, in which loyalists occupied a housing estate and began forcing out residents. The PSNI seemed unable to get control. On Wednesday, a Catholic school suffered an arson attack.

- Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy's suggestion that officers be recruited from foreign police forces to help the Gardaí deal with Ireland's growing immigrant population. Well, why not from the North too?

- The call from the local PSNI District Commander in North Antrim, Superintendent Terry Shevlin, for additional resources to help crack down on sectarian attacks against Catholic property in the area. Why can't the South offer additional resources?

- The news that the PSNI are mounting undercover patrols to try to halt the escalating sectarian campaign of attacks on Catholic homes, schools and churches in north Antrim. Fifty officers belonging to the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s tactical support unit have also been drafted in to patrol the streets at night and guard property they believe could be under threat. Couldn't the South offer some assistance in this matter?

We've already seen some cooperation between the PSNI and the Gardai so let's go all out and offer what is surely the best solution of all - a joint police force for the island.

There would be numerous benefits as the PSNI would be getting welcome assistance and vice-versa, Catholics would feel a greater degree of comfort through the proposals, the influence of extremist Republican groups would be reduced as people would not look to them for protection and, as well as that, it could finally lead to Sinn Fein signing up to a Policing Board as I can't see them objecting to an all-Ireland force, especially in light of the recent direction the IRA has taken.

It's time to once again have an all-Ireland police force. As can be seen at present, divided we are weak but united we will be strong and we can tackle the criminal elements from both communities.

Let's see it happen.


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