The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

When decorum is repression, the only dignity free people have is to speak out.- Abbie Hoffman

Anthony McIntyre • July 20, 2003

Politically motivated raids by the RUC on the homes of those in nationalist communities are nothing new. Even with its face lift white jeeps and new PSNI name the RUC still invades working class areas and occupies houses. At one time, even if for pure harassment, such forays were ostensibly aimed at seizing weapons and explosives. Today there has been a marked shift in emphasis towards depriving people of the ability to provide alternative media services. Not only are computers seized with depressing regularity, but all the means essential to sustaining a forum for alternative voices not approved by officialdom are subject to confiscation. These include mobile phones, computer discs, electronic organisers, notebooks, letters and cameras.

My family home was first raided in February 1972. Since then all the homes in which I have lived have been subjected to a similar experience. The promises by many nationalist politicians that the Good Friday Agreement would herald an end to this have remained unfulfilled. Quite often republicans’ assessment of the shortcomings of the GFA takes on an abstract character. Critique is frequently expressed in quasi-theological terms - the Agreement has transgressed some sacred and inviolable principle. For most people this means nothing. Concerned primarily with getting on with their lives, they are turned off by the obscurantist and anachronistic purism that that motivates only the holier than thou - in other words very few. But when squads of heavily armed RUC men are in your home - no matter how business-like, civil and courteous they may be on the day - rifling through your possessions, confiscating your property, there is no escaping the awesome fact - they have come out of this conflict with their power intact and our rights against them amounts to whistling in the wind. All that the GFA has achieved is to make them more accountable. But backed up by a panoply of laws and repressive legislation, such accountability is a mere irritant for them. The effort expended over the course of all those years spent seeking to transform the context in which the rampant exercise of British state power occurs suddenly vaporises. It all comes home with a sickening emotional thud that it was all for nothing. The RUC are still the raiders and we are still the raided.

By way of adding insult to injury many nationalists are tripping over themselves to treat cop boss Hugh Orde as a fresh broom eager to clean up the policing question. Give them a Hughie rather than a Ronnie and the means to slip comfortably into overdrive self-denial become self-evident. Yet it is Orde who has become associated with ever increasing erosions of civil liberties. While still part of the Stevens investigation team, he was waging a campaign against the journalist Ed Moloney who had been making life uncomfortable for the cops handling the investigation into the 1989 murder of Pat Finucane. Despite knowing the identity of his killers from the minute the murder took place, Orde felt it better to target not the killers but the journalist who was asking the awkward questions.

Since becoming Top Cop little in the way of intent has changed. Orde has made it his business to give journalists a hard time. The incident that most vividly highlighted his anti-press zeal came with the midnight knock on the door of Liam Clarke and Kathy Johnston, both of who were hauled off to police cells for interrogation. As part of this drive my home has been the latest for PSNI attention. It was not hit because I am a republican. Like most others who have any inkling of what goes on in Northern Irish politics, nobody in our home is either involved with or gives succour to the physical force tradition. In fact, without having given up on our republican beliefs both I and those I associate with have gone further than most in rejecting the use of physical force as a means of addressing the conflict. We have seriously questioned the wisdom of ever having waged an armed campaign to begin with.

My home was hit because Orde is determined that unless he ordains otherwise, the business of the public shall not be made public. He has sought to punish and deter those writers and commentators who infuse into the public arena inter alia information that sheds light on discussions between our politicians or the nature of the prison regime in Maghaberry.

Orde has tried to promote an image of himself as the non-political cop who will act impartially when it comes to policing. This is a nonsense. He can send a large force - in one account 33 landrovers - to a passive nationalist estate to search the homes of people not remotely associated with the use of armed force a mere two days after they had reported on a protest at Dundonald House. Yet a year after the loyalist murder of Gerard Lawlor, despite the RUC openly admitting that it is aware of the identity of the perpetrators there has not been one home searched, one arrest made or one person charged.

Hugh Orde’s impartiality balance sheet does not add up. It does not take a genius to see that he is as determined to cook the books as his predecessors. His harassment of writers and commentators makes a mockery of any claims that we have a new dispensation. Truly a case that things only changed here in order to remain the same.


 

 

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"As a rule, dictatorships guarantee safe streets and terror of the doorbell. In democracy the streets may be unsafe after dark, but the most likely visitor in the early hours will be the milkman."
- Adam Michnik



Index: Current Articles



20 July 2003

 

Other Articles From This Issue:

 

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss
Anthony McIntyre

 

Sinn Fein Support for Prisoners' Demand
Mick Hall

 

Alternatives

Liam O Ruairc

 

Revenge of the Bureaucrats
Julie Brown

 

What It's Like to be Raided
Carrie Twomey

 

Raid on McIntyre Home

 

3 July 2003

 

Protest at Dundonald House
Anthony McIntyre

 

Dundonald House Protest (Photos)
Carrie Twomey

 

Conditions at Maghaberry Worsen

Lorraine Corr, relative; and statements from the IRPWA

 

Letters from Republican Prisoners
Rory O'More and Martin Brogan

 

 

 

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