Monday, October 17, 2005

Well done, Denis Bradley

Denis Bradley, the vice chairman of Northern Ireland's Policing Board, was beaten with baseball bat last month by a masked man in Derry. The finger of blame is pointing at dissident Republicans. He's also had death threats made against him and had his home petrol-bombed.

I wonder what Fr. Alec Reid - accuser of Unionist Nazism - makes of that? It's straight from the Reichskristallnacht.

Anyway Mr Bradley, himself a former priest, has defied his attackers, saying he's definitely staying on the Policing Board. I want to say 'well done' to him. Not only is he taking a personal risk by making this stand, he's also making the statement that policing by a democratically controlled force with local cross-community accountability is important to him. And it's also important to everyone in the Six Counties. The last thing we need is for the PSNI to be accountable to (a) no one, (b) the UK government directly or (c) Unionist rule à la 1921-1987.

What we need is a strong PSNI accountable to, and supported by, the vast majority of Ulster people and all their major political parties. The Policing Board and its local groupings are there to help shape policing policy and determine the way the police force behaves, and I repeat my call for Sinn Féin to join in this work. If it continues to welch on its responsibility as a group of properly elected individuals it is deliberately disenfranchising its voters in this regard and stripping them of their right to co-determine the way their communities are policed.


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