2007: policing – a step too far
in Unfinished business
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The issue of policing provides an insight into the contested narratives between the mainstream and ‘dissident’ worlds regarding normalisation of Northern Ireland. This chapter examines attempts by Sinn Féin to keep its base united around accepting the legitimacy of the PSNI, placing an emphasis on its changed stance as tactical. The chapter provides an unprecedented insight into a Sinn Féin public meeting on policing which took place in Clonard Monastery in West Belfast. Radical republicans reject the significance of the change from the RUC to the PSNI and reject any reformed police force on a six-county basis. Such rejection is deeply rooted in ideology, tradition and symbolism. Radical republican discourse is largely dominated by references to negative interaction with the police. Through primary interviews, this chapter examines discourse around the legacy of the RUC and claims of collusion and mistrust. For groups such as RSF, the 32CSM, Saoradh and éirígí, protests against the PSNI form a significant element of the organisations’ visibility within the North. Finally, this chapter examines ‘community policing’ undertaken by the CIRA, the REAL IRA, the New IRA and OHN, and provides an insight into the nuanced spectrum of opinion within the republican world regarding republican policing.

Unfinished business

The politics of ‘dissident’ Irish republicanism

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