Sinn Fein has since 2007 been an enthusiastic supporter of British policing in the North. The early promise to put manners on the force was mere wind bagging and long since forgotten - a ruse to make the policing pill easier to swallow for the grassroots as they were told to swallow what they had previously promised never to ingest. The party has for years been the recipient of manners dispensed by the PSNI and not reciprocated.
This week, the party took a further step in its long walk away from the long war it so eagerly supported and sponsored. Senior Sinn Fein figures Michelle O'Neill and Gerry Kelly turned up at a PSNI recruiting event. In doing so the party stamped its imprimatur on the legitimacy of a British police force in Ireland. From unqualified support for armed struggle to unqualified support for British armed policing, the journey has been long but the reversal definitive.
After failing to respond to the request to attend the event the party turned up, lending weight to a suspicion that it was decided on at the last minute for the purpose of getting a bounce down South after some difficult questions and dodgy answers around law and order during the general election campaign. Even so, the die is cast and the endorsement of the PSNI irreversible.
This comes at a time when the PSNI has been involved in covering up for those state operatives heavily involved in Bitish state terrorism. It sought and secured the extradition of John Downey for conflict related offences. It has never arrested any of the police officers involved in the torture of suspects nor prison officers for brutality during the blanket protest. Institutional abuse seems worthy of investigation only up to a point.. It stops where the abuse of prisoners starts. None of this mattered to the former radical, Gerry Kelly.
Hardly had Kelly arose from his knees when up popped Superintendent Bobby Singleton to kick sand in his face. Singleton, already laughed out of court for his bias againsgt the IRSP, promised to go after republican activists suspected by the British of involvement in the IRA armed struggle. Among them there may be men and women who Kelly sent out on operations, yet here he is recruiting for the force that is set to arrest and imprison them.
Times change and things move on. The extent to which that change can be measured is in Gerry Kelly assuming more the persona of a prison governor than the prisoner he once was. He gives little cause to doubt that the new Gerry Kelly would happily arrest the old.