Law and Order Man

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it - Upton Sinclair

Gerry Kelly doesn’t seem to get it or more probably pretends not to get it. It is hard to believe he is so obtuse that the gettable is unreachable. While he is far from stupid it can be difficult if not impossible for someone to get something if their career depends on them not getting it. In those circumstances feigning not to notice is a better option.

On last week’s BBC Spotlight Kelly, in a flourish even a true blue Tory could be proud of, set out his stall as a firm law and order man. Involuntarily, an image of him weaved its way through the contours of what still functions within the depths my grey matter. There he was standing shoulder to shoulder with colleagues in the thin blue line holding back Arthur Scargill and his buddies as the National Union of Mineworkers sought to break the law.

The rule of law, old boy, is all important. So it’s crucial to know what side of the barricade one is on, of course: scoundrels and scallywags to the left, the great and the good to the right. Gerry Kelly makes no attempt to hide the fact that he stands foursquare on the British police side. At best he might pretend they are something other than British: which is consistent with pretending not to get it. He can do little else. It is the logic of a reformist position on the issue of partition coupled with cooption. A cursory look at the odyssey of the Sticks is instructive in this respect.

In criticising the fuel smugglers of South Armagh, from whose endeavours his party and its military wing made a handsome sum over the decades, Gerry Kelly asserted the point that the a new dispensation had been signed up to and that the rule of law must prevail. Anybody in breach of that law must face the rigours of due process.

So far so good. It at least does not run contrary to party president Gerry Adams previously having claimed that all unlawful activity after the Good Friday Agreement was criminal. Where the ‘not getting it’ enters the fray is in Kelly’s earlier reaction to PSNI arrests of people like Padraic Wilson who have been hauled before the courts and now face possible jail time. Kelly in leaping to Wilson’s defence, made one of those ‘peace processisms’ which back in the day would have allowed him to grab the microphone with few questions asked. Not so easy today. He argued that Wilson as a supporter of the peace process should somehow because of that not have his alleged post GFA activities investigated like others suspected of unlawful activity. This flies in the face of the PSNI position which Kelly seems otherwise to endorse when employed against political people he does not approve of. The PSNI contend that Wilson has breached a law and that the matter must be adjudicated upon in a court of law.

There are persuasive reasons why Wilson should not be in front of the court but they are related to the protocol and ground rules governing lines of communication between adversaries. They pertain to the stage of proceedings prior to any police involvement. Once the police enter the fray all that changes: they are merely doing the job that Sinn Fein has demanded they do – prosecute all post GFA lawbreakers against whom evidence exists.

Political policing may be said to exist when some are either over-policed or under-policed for political rather than legal reasons. Wilson’s arrest was not political policing. The attempt to have the case rendered null and void despite a law supposedly being broken is tantamount to a call for political policing. There are good reasons for the case not to proceed but, as suggested above, they are neither political nor policing.

What the arrest of Wilson, and subsequently Sean Hughes on related charges, has illustrated is the power matrix in which the relationship between Sinn Fein and the British police is embedded. Emblazoned is the issue of who can do what to whom: who will have the manners put on them and who will do the putting. This is what Gerry Kelly does get but pretends not to so that the sham can be maintained.

Gerry Kelly and Sinn Fein want a get out of jail free card for their own while the rest can rot. If that’s not political policing what is?


  1. It appears that commandant Kelly and his cronies have dug a big hole for themselves on the whole issue of "troubles related activities" now reclassified as crime by Gerry Itwasntme the quisling $inn £einds party for life president,We have Paddybroy Wilson facing charges along with Seanbroy Hughes,and coming hot on their heels is now Johnbroy Downey,and you can be as sure as there is shit on Gerry Itwasntme,s shirtail that more will follow, even the Northern Bank job could become a liability and not the golden handshake,at the rate this is going by 2016 instead of celebrating a united Ireland we could be watching a rerun of 81,something even the ostrich minded commandant Kelly could not have failed to notice,!

  2. As Walter Scott wrote,"Oh what a tangled web we weave When first we practice to deceive"


    As Marx wrote ""History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."

  3. Yip organised rage as Groucho Marx said to commandant Kelly,"time wounds all heels"!

  4. You won't hear Gerry and The Peacemakers use this quote from Bobby Sands...

    "They will not criminalise us, rob us of our true identity, steal our individualism, depoliticise us, churn us out as systemised, institutionalised, decent law-abiding robots.

    Never will they label our liberation struggle as criminal..."

    'Systemised, institutionalised, decent law-abiding robots. Now who could that best describe?'

  5. Certainly I wouldn't justify the arrest of Padraig Wilson by any means but as you say Anthony Sinn Fein have brought this on themselves. By failing to address political policing when it was applied to Price, McGeough and Corey they allowed the Brits to test the waters and to find out it was ok to delve a bit deeper. They should have been shouting the house down that these arrests were totally unacceptable and outside the parameters of the peace process - but they didn't. Because they didn't give a shit. Any efforts to secure their release only came after the great work of people like Helen McClafferty, Pauline and Nuala who comment on here and Jim McIlmurray to name a few who raised the profile of these cases with the public, showing up the inactivity of Sinn Fein and forcing them to at least appear to do something to protect their reputation with their own grassroots. Because they never really applied any real pressure on these arrests, practically ignoring them, they allowed the situation with Wilson, Hughes and now John Downey to materialise. If they'd moved at the time of this original trio of cases they would have nipped the British agenda in the bud. Instead their downright disgraceful failure to do so has them in a bad breeze. Gerry Kelly is the biggest hypocrite under the sun by the way he treated Alan Lundy's case, how on earth could we take him serious now?

  6. Strange how Gerry Kelly remains silent on the disgraceful treatment of Christine Connor - pure hypocrisy

  7. Dixie:

    No Other than SF Leadership.

    Who now work with and for the British ("and as far as I'm Concerened, Have been working with and being trained by the British since 1974"to further their own political aganda

  8. republicanism will only be dead if them SF stooges die peacefully in their beds, ie get away with it.