When I came to Northern Ireland in 1978 the police force was the RUC. They were the police force until 2001. So, I had 23 years under the RUC.
In 2001 they became the PSNI. So I’ve had the PSNI for 20 years.
I wish we had the RUC back.
Don’t get me wrong. In many ways the RUC was a Loyalist and Protestant police for for a Loyalist and Protestant people. Members of the Nationalist and Catholjc
Many members of the RUC were prejudiced and bigoted and RUC members committed many heinous crimes.
But the PSNI is useless.
To report a crime to them you cannot go to the police station anymore. You have to ring 101. You then get speaking to a call centre to a non police person.
They will take the details and you may or may not hear from the police.
With the RUC you could go to the station and speak to a policeman.
If not satisfied you could make an appointment and speak to the duty inspector.
Now with the PSNI our police stations are fronted by security men and non police receptionists. No police present.
I do not blame individual PSNI officers for this situation. I blame the structures and those who operate them.
TWO OCCASIONS WITH WHICH I WORKED WITH THE RUC FOR EVERYONE’S SAFETY.
THE DIVIS FESTIVAL
In the early 1980s I organised a big clean up of the Divis Flats with the residents.
We followed this with a week long music festival to celebrate the new cleanliness and state of the area.
It involved music performances and street parties.
In those days the presence of the police and army in the area caused street riots and more.
I didn’t want that happening during the festival.
I asked the chief superintendent to keep the police and army completely out of the area for seven days.
He told me that this was a big ask but he agreed on my promising him that if anything serious happened I would let him know.
We had a great incident free festival and everyone had a good time and nothing bad happened.
That was the result of practical community based, wise policing.
THE INLA BOMB
One day the same chief superintendent rang me and asked to see me urgently. He told me that the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) had placed in the area. He had the choice of flooding the area with police and army which would have led to months of rioting and probably human injuries and death.
So the chief super wanted to find a clever way around the issue.
He asked me to get the Provos to remove the INLA bomb.
It was gone in less than an hour.
No army. No police. No rioting.
Just clever police / community cooperation.
That’s why I miss the RUC.