The action centres on investigations into recent and historic cases involving allegations of police criminality and misconduct by failing to properly probe murders. Claims of collusion between some police officers and the killers feature in many.Given the spin about the RUC belonging to a bygone era along with the hype about the PSNI being the most accountable police force in the world, the unalloyed reactionary stance by the leader of British policing in Ireland is steadily reducing such claims to guff. The police ombudsman forced to take a judicial review to compel the PSNI to fulfil its statutory duty is surely without precedent.
The ostensible handwringers can at least spare us the bull of feigned shock. It seems the essence of common sense for the PSNI press office to assert that ‘the chief constable is acting on behalf of the whole organisation’ in his refusal to hand over to the police ombudsman files relating to 60 conflict deaths. That is a self-evident truth that is not in the slightest offset by the linguistic and ideational contortions of those currently bamboozling and serving up a strained hybrid of police praising and police parsing. Such fluent jabberwocky is nothing other than an attempt to mask their presence at a political terminus which was always hardwired into their strategy of coming to terms with the hegemony of partition.
There is no dark side at play here. It is one tone policing. The entire PSNI outfit is a dark side when it comes to dealing with the past. It has taken a corporate approach to the issue and as a body is determined to carry on in its old RUC mode of cover up. Unlike its RUC days, however, the PSNI is not confronted with a political force that has managed to remain oppositional. The task of putting manners on the PSNI has fallen to others.
Former police ombudswoman Nuala O’Loan said of Baggott:
the chief constable is under a duty to pass the information over … the responsibility is then on the police ombudsman to take such measures as are necessary to protect the lives of any informant … The Police ombudsman will be acutely aware of those responsibilities but the police cannot argue that they have no duty to hand this information over, it's absolutely explicit. Parliament made its will clear … I don't know why the chief is doing this …
Most of us who have experienced political policing first hand are not as reticent about stating that we do know exactly why the chief is doing it. The PSNI, eager to remind us of its duty to investigate the actions of non-state actors. is quick to sidestep any duty to investigate state personnel 'serious crime, including murder.' This is not about the PSNI wanting to protect the lives of informants. If it were concerned with informants’ lives it might reveal the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Franko Hegarty and Joe Fenton, given that the same British agent seems to have been pivotal to the fate of both men.
The PSNI balking is about protecting the nocuous role played by law enforcement in the area of agent handling. Lift the curtain on the role of the agents and all roads will lead back to British state security services handlers. The agents are a decoy, thrown out to delay or deflect the probing of the state security agencies.