The RUC Charm Offensive – It hasn’t Gone Away You Know

Op-ed by Saoradh’s Newry spokesperson Stephen Murney

A photo taken some years ago shows a protest at Ardmore barracks in Newry. The protest was organised against the RUC’s charm offensive.

For those who don’t know, the RUC charm offensive was part of a policy of normalisation, an attempt to portray the British Crown Forces as “the good guys” when in reality they were the front line of British occupation.

The use of the “charm offensive” included getting themselves into schools and community groups, recruitment events and general PR stunts. Basically to get people to like and trust them.

While this was going on they were also harassing and terrorising the Republican community across the 6 counties.

Fast forward to today and we have the PSNI Incorporating the RUC operating from the same barracks using the exact same tactics.

Recent recruitment events themselves are a waste of time as you can be guaranteed that nobody living in local communities are donning the uniform of the Crown Forces. Those who do have to move elsewhere as they are ostracized by their community, and rightly so, as they simply aren’t wanted or welcome, nor would It be safe for them to continue to live within their areas.

However unfortunately their current normalisation policy is having some success. What we have here is a situation where some local community associations and schools seem to ignore the reality of the adverse impact that the RUC/PSNI is having within our communities, particularly in relation to young children.

They ignore the harassment, house raids and arrests and pursue a strategy of providing fig-leaf cover for the force by including them in events.

We suppose the only difference is that some in the first photo are promoting the very same charm offensive they once protested against.

Ever since former republicans made the decision to support the British forces of occupation, namely the “PSNI”, we have witnessed an obvious and deliberate attempt to integrate them into nationalist and republican communities across the six-counties using various means and methods. This is a deliberate policy which former republicans are instrumental in pursuing. The long held republican demand to “Disband the RUC” never actually became a reality.

The people, and communities, of Newry and beyond should not feel as if they have to accept and work with these sinister forces. They simply don’t have to do it. They didn’t have to do it in the past and they certainly don’t have to do it today. Those who choose to promote these forces should seriously reconsider their policy of working with human rights abusers. Harassment is as real today as it was in any of the past few decades and no amount of pathetic publicity stunts and petty photo opportunities will change that.

We would also say to those with a political agenda to examine your conscience and stop providing political cover for the British state forces and their actions which violate human rights.

Below we list just some examples of the major issues relating to the RUC/PSNI which have been publicly criticised by victims’ groups and by human rights organisations:

*The RUC/PSNI continues to prevent effective investigations into the deaths of Irish citizens at the hands of British controlled death squads.

*The RUC/PSNI continues to obstruct and unnecessarily delay inquests into many of those same deaths as a matter of routine.

*The RUC/PSNI continues to withhold information, documentation and intelligence files from the families of those who died as a result of British state terrorism.

*The RUC/PSNI has re-employed huge numbers of ex-RUC Special Branch personnel, many of whom are implicated in the murders of Irish citizens and other serious human rights abuses.

*Large numbers of RUC/PSNI personnel routinely operate under MI5 control. A report by the Committee on the Administration of Justice in 2012 suggests the actual figure could be as high as 2,500 personnel – one third of their total manpower. This clearly indicates the formal establishment of an unaccountable ‘a force within a force’, rather than the existence of a small ‘cabal’ of rogue cops.

*The RUC/PSNI regularly calls upon Britain’s shadowy military force, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, to conduct undercover operations on its behalf.

*The RUC/PSNI ignored rulings of the European Court of Human Rights by continuing to conduct thousands of unlawful ‘stop and searches’, almost exclusively against republicans. Evidence shows that MI5 directs the usage of stop and search powers by the RUC/PSNI.

*The RUC/PSNI has engaged in evidence tampering in a number of cases against republicans.

*The RUC/PSNI has fired large number of plastic bullets at unarmed civilians and stockpiled many thousands of those lethal projectiles.

*The RUC/PSNI has approved use of child informers.

*The British state previously introduced 28 day detention for those under arrest.

*The RUC/PSNI and the British courts routinely use ‘internment by remand’ to imprison political opponents for periods of up three years.

*The RUC/PSNI and the British courts impose a draconian form of internal exile upon political opponents within the Six Counties. Such measures have not been used in the Six Counties since the abolition of the old Special Powers Act.

*The RUC/PSNI and the British courts flouted European court rulings by retaining DNA samples and fingerprints of thousands of innocent people, including children.

*Facilitated illegal unionist demonstrations and co-operated with unionist paramilitaries in a manner that echoes the behaviour of the RUC.

*Suppressed legitimate peaceful political protests by nationalists, republicans and other progressives.

*Suppressed legitimate peaceful political protests by nationalists, republicans and other progressives.

*Introduced and used Taser stun guns.

*Introduced and used CS gas spray.

*Updated its vast arsenal of weapons including automatic assault rifles and heavily armoured vehicles.

*Expanded the already extensive network of ‘big brother’ style cameras and other surveillance equipment.