Policing and Justice address to Ard-Fheis 2014 by Mícheál Mac Lochlainn
POLICING AND JUSTICE
Comrades I’d like to start by quoting directly from the IRSPs political document, Perspectives on the Future of Republican Socialism in Ireland on the topic of policing.
“The Irish Republican Socialist Party views the cosmetic exercise of changing the name of the RUC, the replacement of the badge, with one designed to reflect all so called “traditions” , the establishment of so-called “District Policing Partnerships” and the strategy of engaging with local communities as a cynical exercise to normalise a discredited and unpopular paramilitary force. The IRSP rejects the attempt to force this arm of the state on the wider community and calls for the establishment of an unarmed, all Ireland Police Service subject to democratic control by the working class. The Irish Republican Socialist Party fully accepts and understands that there may be circumstances when contact with the PSNI or Garda is an inevitable consequence of the unsatisfactory nature of the society in which we live. However the IRSP warns the community as a whole that the downside of such contact will be the increase of police informers with the PSNI attempting to make the policing institutions more acceptable through a normalising of relations by their involvement in day-to-day community activities. “
Policing should be, on the face of it, an easy topic to discuss for Republican Socialists but as in all politics, and indeed life, nothing is as black and white as we would like it to be.
In my opinion no one is, or no one will ever, call for the Irish Republican Socialist Party to support either the Garda or the Police Service of Northern Ireland. It’s simply off the table as it is and always will be ideologically impossible for the Irish Republican Socialist Party to publically or privately support any institution of the imperialist occupation.
To even attempt to change the IRSPs position on policing someone would have to get up in front of a full Ard Fheis and convince a majority of the Party to support the protectors of private property and guardians of the capitalist institutions. It’s not going to happen.
The difficulty for the IRSP lies in engaging in community politics, trade unionism and other arenas of struggle, where contact with the PSNI or Garda is inevitable, whilst never forgetting the fact that we are a party of the working class, tackling issues and pushing a republican socialist political agenda with the aim of overthrowing capitalist society.
The Police are the enforcers of capitalist society who will smash your head on a picket line one minute but be your friendly community cop the next. We must never forget what that uniform represents; it represents the occupation the ruling elite and the British monarchy as that’s who they inevitably serve.
We cannot properly discuss political policing in Ireland without referencing the Hearts and Minds strategy outlined by British Army Intelligence officer Frank Kitson, in his book Low Intensity Operations, Subversion, Insurgency and Peace Keeping, released in 1971.
Kitson articulates the strategy and the importance of intelligence gathering, the targeting of individuals, psychological operations and propaganda aimed at the identification and removal of armed groups and the pacification of the working class. While reading Kitson it’s easy to understand the pacification process that lead to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
Kitsons tactics quoted directly here can be applied to understand what happened in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement, Kitson said.
“In practical terms the most promising line of approach lies in separating the mass of those engaged in the campaign from the leadership by the promise of concessions, at the same time imposing a period of calm by the use of government forces backed up by statements to the effect that most of the concessions can only be implemented once the life of the country returns to normal. Although with an eye to world opinion, and to the need to retain the allegiance of the people, no more force than is necessary for containing the situation should be used, conditions can be made reasonably uncomfortable for the population as a whole, in order to provide an incentive for a return to normal life and to act as a deterrent towards a resumption of the campaign.”
“Having once succeeded in providing a breathing space by these means, it is most important to do three further things quickly. The first is to implement the promised concessions quickly so as to avoid allegations of bad faith which may enable the subversive element to regain control over certain sections of the people. The second is to discover and neutralise the subversive element. The third is to associate as many prominent members of the population, especially those who have been engaged in non- violent action, with the government.”
The subsequent eventual rise of republican ex-combatants, who could be termed “doves”, to prominent positions in the occupational government in Stormont, and their calls for the support of the PSNI by republican communities, while constantly marginalising and discrediting “the hawks”, is testimony to the use of Kitsons strategy in Ireland.
What makes anyone think the same type of divide and conquer strategy is not being implemented in republican/nationalist community’s everyday by the PSNI and indeed MI5.
The PSNI and MI5 are winning the war with smiles, waves and lollipops. And we are all stuck like rabbits in the headlights watching it happen in disbelief.
All policing in Ireland is strategic, intelligence led and political we witness it in the actions of the PSNI and Garda. On one side of the coin they can turn on the charm offensive and some police officers may even be genuinely nice people. But on the other side of the coin they will be the instrument of state repression planting evidence, protecting private business and framing anyone who opposes the inherent injustice of the capitalist state.
The PSNI and Garda will harass young families, heavily handily raid homes, constantly stop and search Republicans, recruit informers and most importantly they will break their own so called laws in a heartbeat just to make your life and the life of your families that bit more difficult.
They will marginalise the revolutionary message by leaking propaganda to the media calling republicans and socialist’s drug dealers and criminals. They work hand in hand with MI5 at every level and as history in Ireland has proven they will assassinate the political opponents of the state when all else fails.
I will finish with policing for a moment and move onto Justice and the Judiciary and how it is used to persecute political opponents of the occupation and the Irish Free State.
To quote on Justice and the Judiciary directly from the IRSPs political document, Perspectives on the Future of Republican Socialism in Ireland it says.
“The Irish Republican Socialist Party recognises the danger of believing that there is such a thing as an “independent” judiciary or an objective judicial system. It needs to be clearly understood that the judiciary North and South presides over laws which were enacted by partitionist governments and as the state is the state of the ruling class, by definition the judiciary is also viewed as representing the interests of the ruling class. The Irish Republican Socialist Party also notes with concern the continued presence of extra-judicial MI5 in the North and calls for an immediate cessation of their activities in Ireland and their immediate expulsion from Ireland.”
Since the year 2000 the British government has passed 11 acts of legislation aimed at dealing with political discontent and the individuals the State deems involved. From these 11 acts of legislation the British State has tried to enact 38 new special powers and definitions of offences to be used by the State against anyone it sees fit to target.
Since 2000 the period of detention for questioning suspects can be held for has risen from 7 days to 14 days in 2003 to 28 days since 2006 with the British Government being defeated in 2008 while trying to rise the days of detention to 42. Since 2000 the period the PSNI can “legally” or illegally as we would say detain you for questioning has risen by 400%, a worrying trend.
These acts of legislation also gave the PSNI the powers to stop and search persons and vehicles without cause leading to widespread targeted abuse and harassment of republicans.
The acts of legislation allow the questioning of republicans after they have been charged, the freezing of assets, new charges against “glorifying terrorism”, that’s the State definition of Terrorism, which means anything they want it to mean, from handing out a political leaflet to a politically motivated post on your Facebook or Twitter, remember these are the same people who once called for the hanging of Nelson Mandela as a Terrorist.
The acts of legislation allow the tracking of those charged with a political offence to be monitored like a sex offender and they allow full access to your texts, emails, calls and any other digital foot print you leave behind.
Since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement they have been putting their extra ordinary powers of arrest and detention to use, Maghaberry is full of republicans who are “selectively interned” and MI5 constantly monitors the contact the political prisoners have with their friends and family.
They have been caught planting forensic evidence, interning republicans on remand, using past charges of a political nature to whip anyone who comes into their cross hairs of the streets. And they are able to portray themselves as the good guys, comrades we are not exposing their web of human rights abuses properly.
The Free States so called Special Criminal Courts and Judiciary record is not much better than the British, sometimes worse.
Since 1939 they have been interning political activists on the sole word of an unaccountable Garda Superintendent. They have been caught on countless occasions lying under oath and framing the innocent.
Garda even got away with beating young working class men from Dublin’s inner city to death in Garda cells, where is the justice for those young men’s families? Whose only “crime” was to be brought up in a certain set of socio-economic circumstances?
The United Nations Commission for Human Rights, Amnesty International and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties have all publically criticised the Human Rights abuses in the Special Criminal Court yet it has fallen on deaf ears.
The message that these blatant abuses send us is that the Irish Free State Judiciary and all other institutions are un-reformable and exist to protect the State and its ruling class. Seamus Costello’s words “we need to destroy the public’s confidence in the institutions of capitalism” have never been more relevant.
The entire Irish judiciary is built around the culture of control. It is driven by its inherently right wing Catholic outlook; it is extremely punitive always seeking its pound of flesh, this mindset needs to be broken.
The Irish judiciary has no problem in evicting elderly tenants from their home for rent arrears or jailing people who have fallen behind on the electricity bills. When a young mother froze to death in her Dublin apartment not one proper credible investigation took place to ask how, in this day and age, something like this could happen.
The Garda and Judiciary will side with the bosses and the “big money men” ten times out of ten. It has and will again send its Garda to break picket lines and assault striking workers.
The PSNI or the Garda Soihcána are not workers, they should never be treated like workers, they are state sponsored scabs, paid to protect capitalism.