RUC stand idly by
This past ten days or so of loyalist disorder have shown again, as if further evidence was required, the necessity for a completely new policing service in the Six Counties.
As the North plummeted into chaos at the behest of the Orange Order, the RUC effectively stood by and let it happen. Whereas peaceful nationalist protestors were met two weeks ago on the Springfield Road with batons and departed with heads split and cautions pending, a senior RUC officer this week spoke of his reluctance to ``manhandle'' loyalist protestors.
Whereas nationalists are hit and arrested first, loyalists are photographed, according to the RUC, to be interviewed about their activities at a later date.
Whereas plastic bullets have been the lethal weapon of choice against nationalists and republicans, loyalists this week were confronted with water cannons.
The RUC this week allowed children and teenagers to block roads. Nationalists willing to try to get through have been threatened with arrest. The extent of the shutdown across the North that paralysed businesses and confined many to their homes was to a great extent dictated by the unwillingness of the RUC to act against loyalists, a less than subtle collusion.
Nationalists in vulnerable areas subjected to sectarian attacks have complained again about undue delays in RUC responses to calls for assistance.
d on the eve of the Twelfth, these even-handed protectors of British justice allowed loyalist gunmen to blast hundreds of rounds in the air at bonfires across Belfast, unhindered.
Today, Sinn Féin publishes a 100-page report detailing the failure of the British government's Policing Bill, which makes a mockery of the Patten Commission report and, if passed in its present format, will be, in Gerry Adams' words, ``wholly unacceptable to nationalists and republicans'' (see Page 9).
This week, Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson should look long and hard and draw lessons from the relative inaction of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Those lessons should be applied to the Policing Bill, while there is still time to save us all from a shoddy piece of legislation which, in its present form, will sustain inequality and injustice and fail to achieve a force that can enjoy the trust and respect of all.
One thing is for certain. The RUC must go.