Saturday, 14 May 2011

Questions for Gerry Adams

There are two interesting and related reports in the Belfast Telegraph tonight.

The first relates to the attempt by the PSNI Serious Crime Branch to subpoena tapes from the Boston College archive  in which former IRA members allegedly implicated Gerry Adams in crimes such as the murder of Jean McConville.  Among those interviewed were Brendan Hughes, a former Belfast IRA commander who died in 2008, and Dolours Price, a convicted IRA bomber.  Hughes said that Adams set up a secret murder squad in Belfast to kill 'the disappeared' and this was repeated in Ed Moloney's book Voices from the Grave, which was based on the interviews.

Apart from her interviews in the Boston archive, Dolours Price also referred to Adams at a republican commemoration in county Mayo in 2001.  On that occasion she said that it was 'too much' to listen to people now saying they weren't in the IRA and she added 'Gerry Adams was my commanding officer'.

The second story concerns Marian Price, a sister of Dolours Price.  Both Marian and Dolours were part of an IRA team that bombed the Old Bailey in 1973.  Today Marian Price is a dissident republican and secretary of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, the political wing of the Real IRA.  Marian Price's home in West Belfast was raided and she is now being questioned by detectives about dissident republican activity.

Adams has gone south of the border to Louth and a seat in the Dail but he cannot escape the questions about his role in the IRA, especially in Belfast in the early 1970s.  Those were the days when the IRA established its secret murder squad, developed the car bomb and then used it to terrible effect on Bloody Friday.

Republicans are good at asking for inquiries and demanding the truth from everyone else but they are guilty of the worst hypocrisy in that Adams and others refuse to tell the truth about their role in the IRA.  Not only does Adams refuse to tell the truth but he even denies he was a member of the IRA, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary from former Provisionals such as Hughes and Price.

There are many questions for Adams to answer and however much he tries to run away from them, those questions will pursue him until they are answered.  Otherwise they will pursue him to the grave.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Time to cut Policing Board costs

There is a good report in the Belfast Telegraph on the running costs of the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB), which currently stand at £8.3 million a year.  This is much higher than comparable policing boards in Great Britain and is due to a number of factors.
  • The chief executive of the NIPB has a salary of £110,000, which is higher than comparable boards in Great Britain.
  • The chairman is paid over £58,000, whereas in Great Britain chairmen tend to get between £10k and £30k.
  • The NIPB has 64 staff whereas Strathclyde Police Authority has just 11 staff.
  • The budget includes the cost of running District Policing Partnerships and this stands at £3 million of the £8.3 million.  An accompanying editorial says of the DPPs that 'many of these meetings are poorly attended and it can be argued that the political representatives on the Board already give the public an adequate conduit to the police.  The board and the district off-shoots were set up to address legacy issues and create a new confidence in policing.  This has been achieved by and large and perhaps a more cost-effective model can evolve.'
The Policing Board has already been ordered to make savings but much more could be done to save money and that money could then be redirected into putting police officers out on the streets, which is what most people want to see.

The NIPB came into existence after the Belfast Agreement and was part of the new approach to policing.  It was of its time but time has moved on and many things have changed.  We need more money directed into front-line policing and less into administration, salaries and DPPs.