So why did the PSNI target the Sinn Fein mayor of Derry? Because they can, and because Sinn Fein can’t stop them. Gerry Adams in seeking to dupe the party faithful into supporting a fully armed British police force promised 'if this motion goes through at the ard fheis, it is about putting manners on the police.' He succeeded. The force seems full of bad manners and Derry people in particular, although not exclusively, appear to be bearing the brunt of that. When Mayor Campbell charges that the PSNI raid transmitted the 'completely wrong signal' about policing in the area, did he regret not heeding the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller after earlier PSNI aggression to which his response reportedly was that the cops were only doing their job? They are still doing it. That job is to pursue those – apart from state actors – who break British laws.
They could of course stop doing it the way they are and take an alternative approach which:
would be for detectives to ring up senior politicians and to ask which suspects could be vouched for and which it would be wise to pull in for questioning. That is just the sort of old boys' network that republicans claimed operated between senior unionists and the RUC under the old Stormont.
But Sinn Fein didn’t get to pick and choose when they signed up. That was a victor’s spoil which Sinn Fein don’t get to share in. They signed up to be policed.
Raymond McCartney, for his part, hardly needs reminding just how dangerous a police force can be in the absence of political muscle to restrain it. And Richard O’Rawe on this blog only last night flagged up the political impotence of northern nationalism in the face of an aggressive British state assault on the culture of rights. It was the same British police force, then operating under a different name, which mercilessly beat a confession out of him in which he admitted taking part in two conflict killings. He was later acquitted but only after spending almost two decades in prison.
Yet Raymond can’t understand. Perhaps he might now that the PSNI ‘have met with Sinn Fein in the city this afternoon to discuss police actions.’ The inexplicable might just become explicable. At the meeting the British police will have told Sinn Fein, diplomatically if they are in a good mood, that we can arrest you and you can’t arrest us.
The raid on the Campbell home was part of a wider police operation targeting Republican Action Against Drugs. This body in the North West has proven a serious embarrassment to both the PSNI and the Justice Minister David Ford. If only to spare their blushes a high profile counter was always in the making. Why Mayor Campbell should attract the attention of the police is anybody’s guess.
Maybe it is too cynical to raise eyebrows at the thought of the PSNI gathering outside the home of Mayor Campbell on the evening of the Twelfth. Nevertheless, it is hard to push away from the mind’s eye the image of the cops figuratively priming the Lambegs in anticipation of the march into Campbell’s home. Moving against RAAD during the Twelfth festivities is a ploy hardly designed to annoy political unionism. Rubbing the nose of the Catholic Mayor of Derry in it while doing so has an echo of This we shall maintain. Campbell rules but it is Gregory not Kevin.
Sinn Fein started out by sucking the truncheon. Can they really claim to be surprised at now being forced to swallow?