Given the revelations that 75% of “civilian staff” employed by the PSNI were in the force when it was called the RUC, the following interview was conducted by the Newry Times with éirígí’s Newry representative Stephen Murney
Newry Times - How do you feel now about the Policing Board knowing that many ex-RUC officers are providing intelligence etc.. and working in what the BBC described as 'the most sensitive areas of policing'?
Stephen Murney - The revelations about the existence of continuity RUC within the so-called civilian staff of the PSNI is evidence of the completely unaccountable nature of policing structures in the Six Counties. éirígí has said all along that the Six County Policing Board and the District Policing Partnerships are nothing but paper tigers with absolutely no power to alter the ethos and impact of British policing in the North. The fact that even members of the Policing Board have admitted that they have no powers to hold these RUC veterans to account further vindicates our analysis.
Newry Times - How do you react to these latest revelations that former members of this RUC still wield power and influence behind the scenes?
Stephen Murney - There has been no sea change in the thinking of those who control policing in the Six Counties. These people remain wedded to repressive strategies and tactics and continue to see the PSNI as the frontline of the British occupation - and that is exactly what the force is.
The PSNI remains a routinely armed force, just like the RUC; it continues to stockpile and use deadly plastic bullets, just like the RUC; it uses repressive legislation to harass and intimidate nationalists and republicans, just like the RUC; it blocks inquiries in an attempt to hide the truth about state killings and collusion, just like the RUC. Given all this, it is hard not to conclude that the PSNI is simply the RUC under a different acronym.
Newry Times - Do you think these revelations will harm the cooperation between the local community and the PSNI and do you think it will cause concern amongst the public?
Stephen Murney - The news that such a large numbers of RUC veterans are still serving in completely unaccountable roles will undoubtedly cause concern among members of the public, many of whom have first hand experience of repressive policing. The PSNI's tactics on the ground and the regular revelations about their unchanging strategies and personnel are leading ever greater numbers of people to reject them as an unaccountable force.
Newry Times - Do you agree there is a need for these former RUC officers to be on the PSNI payroll right now?
Stephen Murney - The RUC was an organisation that habitually abused human rights, engaged in the torture of detainees, colluded with death squads and adopted a policy of shoot-to-kill. Those who staffed this force should be facing the prospect of prosecution for these crimes, not being given continued employment.
Newry Times - Before this week were you aware of the former RUC officers working for the PSNI in a civilian capacity?
Stephen Murney - As recently as a number of months ago it was publicly revealed that over 50 per cent of serving PSNI officers are RUC veterans. Given this, it is no surprise that members of the RUC continue to work in such large numbers in 'civilian' roles. The culture of repression remains embedded within the PSNI - there are no better people to serve this culture than veterans of the RUC.
Newry Times - Would it be fair to suggest that these officers are being employed through a loophole in the Patten Report which suggests the only way former RUC officers can be re-integrated into the Police is through a civilian capacity?
Stephen Murney - As was stated above, over 50 per cent of serving PSNI officers today are former RUC officers, so there is no loop hole in the Patten Report, rather there is a gaping hole which has allowed the culture of repressive policing to continue unimpeded. Fundamentally, this is about British government policy in Ireland and there policy remains that of protecting their presence by any means necessary, including through the use of the continuity RUC.
Newry Times - Will you be lobbying, by stating the terms of Patten Report, that these ex-RUC officers should repay their redundancy lump sum now and also lobby for the closing of this loophole?
Stephen Murney - What éirígí will be doing is continuing its campaign against political and repressive policing, in Newry and elsewhere. The PSNI is an unacceptable and unaccountable force, just like the RUC. They should be opposed as such.