The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Catching The Monkey

Anthony McIntyre • 4 April 2006

A few days ago I found a leaflet lying in my hall. It was from the PSNI. When I commented to a neighbour that I had not heard the cop jeeps in the street, I was told, facetiously, that Sinn Fein had actually distributed them through the doors on behalf of the PSNI. A small signifier of the lack of seriousness attached to Sinn Fein's professed opposition to the PSNI.

The leaflet was an appeal for information in relation to serious crime that had scourged Ballymurphy for weeks in the wake of the murder of local man Gerard Devlin. This ranged from arsons to gun attacks. Whether anybody responds remains to be seen. Why should they?

At one time it was thought that only republicans had any real reason for opposing the cops and much of that was put down to ideological hostility. But after watching the performance of the PSNI in Ballymurphy over the past two months, many people will conclude that it is an absolute waste of time going near them to report anything. Such an outlook will not be born out of republican sentiment, but from awareness that the PSNI have nothing practical to offer.

The PSNI contributed absolutely nothing to community safety in Ballymurphy. They were as active as Burton's dummies. The place burned around them and they effectively stayed their hand on the other side of the Vistula, so to speak. Frances Notarantonio told me as she lay in her hospital bed with the injuries she sustained having been forced to leap from her upstairs bedroom to escape being burned to death, how she had previously had her car vandalised in front of the cops by one of the organisers of the recent rally against anti-social behaviour. Stories of this type are plentiful. The PSNI leaflet stating that 'we would like to assure the community that police are regularly patrolling the Ballymurphy area' could easily have added, 'residents can rest secure in the knowledge that as they are being burned in their beds police will hear their screams and will respond a week or two after the fires have burned themselves out.'

The upshot of this is that people who have been tortured for years by hoods and anti-social elements and who may have looked forward to the time when Sinn Fein endorse the policing structures in the hope that a policed estate would lead to increased community safety and enhanced social harmony, now know it is all a pipe dream.

Policing is not going to deliver the magical panacea to the crime problems that plague working class communities. Rather than Alan McQuillan pursuing Thomas Slab Murphy in South Armagh as a means to bounce Sinn Fein into joining the policing board both he and his Assets Recovery Agency could begin an investigation into the ill gotten gains of the PSNI who have effectively robbed the tax payer blind. With what audacity did they lift their pay cheques after their performance in Ballymurphy? Why were such cheques ever issued? Is there no acknowledgement of the age-old maxim that if you don't work you don't eat? A few hungry peelers might find that loitering with no intent is a wasteful exercise.

Writing in the Sunday Independent Eilis O'Hanlon expressed the following sentiment about Sinn Fein demands on policing. earn the confidence of republicans, police officers in future should operate with both hands tied behind their backs, a length of tape over their mouths and a paper bag over their heads. And that the slogan of the new force should be: "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, And Most Of All Catch No Evil."

Seems that theory may have been validated in Ballymurphy. Certainly, Sinn Fein were testing the waters, trying to dictate to the PSNI which houses should be searched and which should not. The PSNI command in West Belfast, it is alleged, is pioneering the drive to bring Sinn Fein onto the policing board. After last September's loyalist violence, which resulted from the Springfield Road Orange parade being rerouted, unionists demanded that the district commander and his number 2 should be transferred. Both the SDLP and the Dublin government resisted this. Since then it has been suggested that a solid relationship has been established between the West Belfast PSNI number two and a local man alleged by some newspapers to be a member of the IRA's army council. This has historical parallels in the Sullivan-Dyball treaty of 1969. It is what republicanism does when it goes Stick. One need only visit the conference hall in the Farset International to see the names of both men on a wall chart in relation to a meeting that both attended concerning the interface problems. The cop was down as 'government' and the alleged army council man as 'community.' Subsequently there is little to be shocked about when Victor Notarantonio, who was torched out of his Ballymurphy home, alleges that the cops told him they were in discussions with the IRA about the future of his extended family within the community.

Policing in West Belfast is walking on political eggshells. In order to entice Sinn Fein on board, the policy is to hold out the carrot in West Belfast but wield the stick in South Armagh. Whereas the effects of the stick are visible enough, it takes a little more probing to glimpse the carrot at work. As far as the PSNI is concerned, those within the Ballymurphy community not favoured by Sinn Fein can literally roast. Nothing too vigorous will be pursued if it is considered unpalatable to Sinn Fein as the cops strategically play 'softly, softly, catchee monkey' which means buying off West Belfast and bulldozing South Armagh.

The community may not get the policing it deserves, but the monkey will be caught.














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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

4 April 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Interview with Michael McKevitt
Forum Magazine

Catching the Monkey
Anthony McIntyre

Policing the Status Quo
Mick Hall

John Kennedy

T.W.A.T and the problem with Leopard spots
Eamon Sweeney

Bigotry Imperils the Union
David Adams

'Fury over British PM bigot remarks'
Michaél MhaDonnáin

Then Why Is My Colour On Your Flag?
Derick Perry

Exorcise the Ghosts to Revive the Party
Dr John Coulter

How the Irish Screwed Up Civilisation?
Seaghan O Murchu

Play Ball
John Kennedy

Cumann Frithdheighilte Na h-Eireann - An outline
Fionnbarra O'Dochartaigh

Irish Prisoner Suffering Extreme Medical Neglect in English Prison
Paul Doyle

Profile: Maryam Namazie
Anthony McIntyre

Freedom of Expression: No Ifs and Buts
Maryam Namazie

Manning the Firewalls
Anthony McIntyre

Ulster Muslims' Fury at Web Cartoons
Elham Asaad Buaras

Freedom of Speech index

26 March 2006

Profile: Taslima Nasrin
Anthony McIntyre

For Freedom of Expression
Taslima Nasrin

Muslim News Interviews The Blanket

Who Fears to Speak
Richard O'Rawe

Dr John Coulter

Cartoons and Caricatures: An anarchist take on the cartoon row
Jack White

Taslima Nasrin (2000)
Anthony McIntyre

Who Said
John Kennedy

The Key
John Kennedy

Getting Away With Murder
Mick Hall

Will the Real Army Council Please Stand Up
Geoffrey Cooling

Upcoming New York Events
Cathleen O'Brien

The Letters page has been updated:

Freedom of Speech index



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