Republican News · Thursday 19 November 1998

[An Phoblacht]

The RUC and all who sail in it

By Ned Kelly

When a young Catholic man, Brian Maguire, died in RUC custody in Castlereagh Interrogation Centre on May 1979, the RUC claimed his death was suicide but many still maintain Maguire was murdered. RUC Duty Inspector in charge of supervising interrogations at the time was Ronnie Flanagan, current RUC Chief Constable.

When six unarmed nationalists were shot dead in the Lurgan area by a covert RUC assassination squad in 1982 and the subsequent investigation by John Stalker into an official `shoot-to-kill' policy disintegrated, the affair was described as ``conspiracy to commit murder compounded by conspiracy to pervert the course of justice''. The Detective Chief Inspector in command of these units was Ronnie Flanagan.

Flanagan's RUC career spans a strategy that dates back to the early 1970s. This strategy was initiated by a previous British Labour government, developed by the Tory government and inherited by the current New Labour government.

Flanagan in a television interview on Tuesday night expressed concern about a sophisticated, politically motivated plot to undermine the RUC, defended its occasional ``mistakes'' and maintained his men were still defenders of the right and the good.

This force has created the conflict and maintained the political domination of Unionism.

Central to the strategy of Ulsterisation, criminalisation and normalisation is the distancing of British responsibility for creating the situation here and the portrayal of the RUC as upholders of the `rule of law'. Also involved is a concept that emerged during the rule of Margaret Thatcher and has been consolidated under New Labour. It is the idea of creating stakeholders.

These stakeholders are the RUC. RUC Association chairman, Les Rodgers, at a policing conference in Plymouth on Tuesday, said there could and should be no change in the current policing arrangements until society itself had changed - a stand remarkably similar to the one in the DUP submission given by Ian Paisley Jnr to the Patten Commission last month. At its core is a failure to acknowledge the role of the RUC in creating and maintaining the conflict.

This engagement in the securocrat agenda and attempt to maintain a stranglehold on policing is described by North Belfast SF assembly member Gerry Kelly as ``defending the indefensible''. Kelly said: ``Rodgers is cynically attempting to influence the commission on policing. The RUC did not, as Rodgers said, police impartially over the past 30 years. Rather they consisted of a regime wedded to the unionist political establishment to the detriment of all others.''

The RUC are employed on behalf of and paid for not just by Unionists but also by Nationalists. Two recent incidents serve to underline their lack of commitment to justice.

Two weeks ago eight RUC officers attempted to block an inquiry into the beating of Davy Adams in Castlereagh. The eight are still serving officers despite the award of 30,000 in February in damages against the RUC for ``illegal behaviour''.

After the second incident - the Derryhirk Inn attack where undercover RUC men opened fire outside a bar and threatened customers at Ahgagallon near Lurgan in March 1997 - twelve writs, including one against Flanagan, have been served. The new legal move followed an RUC investigation into the incident overseen by the Independent Commission for Police Complaints that was criticised because an RUC officer who took part in the attack handled documents connected with the investigation. Plus ca change.

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