‘We have the strength and peace of mind of those who never compromise’
An initial reading of a quote such as this portrays an image of a staunch republican declaration of a military and political commitment to obtaining the goals proclaimed in the 1916 proclamation. It suggests that the great prize for the republican men and women of this era and future generations would be the casting away of the shackles of British rule and the establishment of the ‘Republic’. In such an achievement the legacies incurred by centuries of colonial oppression would be removed both politically and psychologically and the rural based economic protectionist romantic gaelic vision of Ireland personified by Pearse would come to the fore. This was to be the euphoric utopia those future generations would enjoy thanks to the selfless sacrifices of the men and women of 1916 and to the proclamation which was to be the very birthright of the citizens of this new political paradise.
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The Legitimisation of the Police Force: Fact or Fallacy?
The origins of the ‘crisis of legitimacy’ of policing in the six counties can be traced back to the turbulent birth of the Northern Ireland state itself in the 1920’s. On 1 June 1922 the all-Ireland Royal Irish Constabulary was replaced by the 3,000 strong Royal Ulster Constabulary. The role of the RUC was twofold. First, at the behest of its political masters in Stormont it ‘policed’ nationalist political dissent: either real (as with the IRA campaigns in the 1920s and from 1956-62) or imagined (as with the constant surveillance of Catholics deemed to harbour ‘political’ – i.e. nationalist – views). Second, the RUC played a major role in policing the symbolic world of nationalism to deny expression to minority culture.
The Catholic minority of the new Northern Ireland state refused to join the new force-and were markedly not encouraged to do so by the Protestant state. The Protestant administration, paranoid and self-protective, saw the RUC as its primary line of defence against an internal Catholic uprising or an invasion by the Irish Free State; the Catholic minority saw the RUC as the defender of the illegitimate state and a tool of repression and discrimination. This set the course for the inexorable politicization of the police.
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