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Date Posted: Sat, Jan 06 2007, 1:08:12 PST
Author: Anthony McIntyre-THE BLANKET
Subject: "Policing"-Across a Table
In reply to: Anthony McIntyre-THE BLANKET 's message, ""Policing"-Toome Debate" on Sat, Jan 06 2007, 0:55:20 PST

Across A Table

Anthony McIntyre 14 December 2006

Two years after he was alleged to have approved the Northern Bank robbery Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams met with PSNI chief Hugh Orde, the man who laid blame for the robbery at the feet of the organisation of which Adams is a key figure. Sinn Fein called Orde a securocrat and at that point it seemed that party endorsement of the PSNI would not be forthcoming until Orde had moved on.

A few months later I met the top cop at a function in Belfast and put it to him that Sinn Fein would wait until he had departed his post before signing on the dotted line. Unruffled, he laughed and nonchalantly quipped that he would serve another term to frustrate that. It seems doing a second lap of the NI policing circuit is no longer needed for Orde to secure his goal of getting the former republican party to support his force. Even then, it struck me that Orde had the measure of Sinn Fein. He would never support Sinn Fein. It would be made to support him.

Up until Sinn Fein's firm pulled off the Northern Bank heist, the party could afford to procrastinate. Procrastination was in fact an integral part of the strategy of expansionism which the party was then pursuing. Times have changed. The cost of procrastination is no longer worth the diminishing return. What was once a strategic asset has become a liability. The beggar was put on a horse and rode its way to hell where it quickly discovered that beggars can't be choosers. There is nothing left in the trough for Sinn Fein to rummage its snout through. It has hit rock bottom and brought the republican dimension of the Provisional project down with it.

When the Gerry that matters accompanied by the Gerry that doesn't, as well as two others, there solely to give weight to the gender balance, sat down in front of the cameras with Hugh Orde, it exuded the appearance of an act well rehearsed many times over. Just how often Hugh Orde has sat across the table from Gerry Adams prior to yesterday's 'first', we might never know.

There is no doubt that Orde had a good browse through the files of Adams well in advance of yesterday's tete a tete. When interviewing him just over two years ago in his office at Knock I noticed that amongst his well stocked book collection was Ed Moloney's Secret History of The IRA. While a masterly exposition of the role of Adams within the IRA, it is hard to believe the book told Orde a lot about the former chief of staff that he hadn't already gleaned from his security files. While Mary Lou McDonald might well believe, if she is stupid enough, that Adams was never a member of the IRA, it is a view definitely not shared by the British Police Service of Northern Ireland. In facing Adams, perhaps Orde's sense of pending victory served as the balm with which to desensitise himself from the contents of the Adams-specific accumulated intelligence reports of his colleagues past and present. Whatever the dispute about their accuracy, these reports would almost certainly make the charge that the man across the table was the Harold Shipman of Ireland, a mass killer responsible for much of the blood that flowed through the streets of Ireland and Britain for the best part of three decades.

Sinn Fein would of course dispute any such thing, arguing that all such reports were deliberately falsified over the years to make things awkward for one of the greatest peace makers of the modern era by securocrats opposed to peace. But the perspective of Sinn Fein was hardly intruding on Orde's thoughts as he sat contemplating the Provisional IRA leader brought to heel.

The timing of the meeting is at first glance a touch curious. Perhaps that was exactly as Sinn Fein had planned it to be. That's how the party would like it portrayed; a slick machine dictating the pace of events to all and sundry. But in recent weeks a number of its representatives including Gerry Kelly had been raising the bar to a height none of the other players were prepared to jump. This caused pundits to speculate that it would be impossible for Sinn Fein to pull back in time to make the concessions necessary to either placate the DUP, or deny it the moral high ground in the event of it not being placated.

It may be that Sinn Fein rushed their fences to meet Orde in a bid to pre-empt the growing head of steam being stoked up by republicans deeply unhappy about where the Sinn Fein leadership has taken them. The need to prevent the virus of independent thought spreading throughout the party would be high priority within a body like Sinn Fein. Too much thinking in a leadership-led party can prove fatal for the ideas of the great leader which reign supreme by going uncontested.

Whatever, the reason, one thing is for certain. The Sinn Fein leadership is now on an irreversible course, the destination of which will demonstrate that its leaders were not nearly as hostile to political policing as they claimed to be. Their real gripe was that they were excluded from the function of political policing. Now they too can politically police by jailing republicans for the same things that they ordered so many young men and women to do over the past thirty plus years.

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