Duty Of Cover-Up

Anthony McIntyre thinks the brouhaha against Mary Lou McDonald is contrived. 

The latitude afforded the PSNI in its evasiveness is largely due to Sinn Fein. The force was never fully civilised and as such is wholly committed to protecting its RUC past. In order to give their political careers a boost the Sinn Fein leadership cabal in 2007 rushed their fences and sucked the truncheon. You don't need a Johnny when you have a Gerry, the thinking seemed to go.

At the time the party leadership banked on the backflip opening the door to participation in a British administration in the North, playing second fiddle to Paisley, that would in turn give it an even greater political career bounce in the South. It sailed the ship of fools right into the very storm it now complains about, having solicited more than 90% approval for the PSNI despite failing to put the necessary measures and safeguards in place. It was all sweetened with a vacuous slogan about putting manners on the PSNI. It just failed to mention Bad Manners.

None of that means there is that much wrong with what Mary Lou McDonald had to say about the PSNI, in fact nothing wrong at all. She baldly stated that she could see nobody from within its ranks who was of such character as to enable them to lead the force in the wake of George Hamilton's upcoming summer departure. McDonald made the comment after it emerged that the PSNI had once again not forwarded files necessary to a police ombudsman investigation. Rather than behave wrongly, she properly exercised her right to express an opinion, although we would never guess that from listening to the banshee howling emitting from both the PSNI and the DUP constituency from where - a plausible presumption - the PSNI draws the bulk of its members. 

From the political world, the Decadent Unionist Party has not been alone in criticising Sinn Fein. Fianna Fail too has been quick to race out of the traps rather than do anything tangible to trap the many PSNI leaders who continue through cover-up to be complicit in the crimes of the RUC. It has taken to decrying McDonald as "wholly irresponsible" - "very dangerous" - "undermining" the PSNI. The UUP and Alliance have added their indistinguishable voices. Even the Irish Times has editorialised against McDonald, while Ruth Dudley Edwards has dismissed her as clueless. A lotta heat but no light.

The cacophony is little more than a fanfare for police wrongdoing. None of it addresses the elephant in the room which is that PSNI is covering for the crimes of the RUC in the same way that the Catholic Church is covering up child sex abuse, yet expecting to escape similarly weighted opprobrium which comes courtesy of the concealment more so than the crime.

What serious contender for Chief Constable from within the ranks of the PSNI is willing to state publicly that all documentation relating to the RUC’s role in the dirty war will be brought into the open; that there will be no need for judicial reviews lodged for the purpose of accessing information vital to the performing of the ombudsman's task; that all of those involved in withholding the release of such evidence will be prosecuted on the grounds of perverting the course of justice; that all the torturers who worked under the police thug Bill Mooney will be investigated? That person will be fit for the job. Finding him or her will be as easy as locating a black member of the Ku Klux Klan.

George Hamilton, while commendably more in the mould of Hugh Orde than Matt Baggot, failed to bring the sweeping changes anticipated by some. Perhaps his frustration at banging his head off the Withholding Wall, coupled with his deep misgivings about Brexit, expedited his decision to quit rather than continue for a further three years in the post, an option available to him. He had earlier stated himself to be in "an impossible position" vis a vis the past. His inability to turn that around and make things possible has seriously diminished his criticism of McDonald - that she is guilty of poor leadership.

Hamilton hits out at McDonald for describing the PSNI as cynical. Yet, contrast the withholding of “significant, sensitive information” from the ombudsman with the PSNI pursuit of the Boston College archive coupled with the lying on oath in affidavits from senior PSNI members in respect of the same case, the concocting of offences, the pretence of investigation. If cynical is not an apt term, it is solely due to its mildness.

Sinn Fein Derry MLA, Raymond McCartney, sent down for life on the basis of a RUC torture-extracted confession, for which no live PSNI investigation is taking place, fortified McDonald's position:
In the current climate, I don't think there'd be too many people knocking at my door looking advice (on joining the police) … I think confidence is rock bottom and it's rock bottom because of the actions of the PSNI themselves. No-one else is responsible for this. They have a responsibility for disclosure.
McDonald has drawn attention to the abdication of this responsibility, suggesting that PSNI credibility:
on matters pertaining to legacy is zero, I don’t think that happened today or yesterday but I think certainly this turn of events has confirmed that ... They are repeat offenders in terms of not providing information: not just to the ombudsman, but to the coroners and so on.
As such there will be many raised eyebrows to Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin's assertion that the PSNI "never sought to deliberately withhold" information, in circumstances where it seems the PSNI does little else and on occasion had to be hauled before the courts so that the information on sixty killings it was withholding could be accessed.

Regnant within the PSNI is a DUP worldview. It shows no sign of changing anytime soon: no duty of care, just a duty of cover-up.

Anthony McIntyre blogs @ The Pensive Quill. 

Follow Anthony McIntyre on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre


  1. You can hardly expect the PSNI to release documents without an Amnesty Anthony(!)

  2. Steve - gander can sup its own sauce. Why should the PSNI expect that clause to apply exclusively to it?