In the piece that I wrote yesterday, I was mildly critical of Sir Hugh Orde. I use the word “mildly” because he is not a politician. Perhaps you could say that my criticism was more like advice.
I also appreciated where Martin McGuiness was coming from when he objected to the deployment of Special Forces. He believed that by doing that, it would result in a dangerous escalation of the violence.
The attack at the Army barracks in Antrim had nothing to do with Sir Hugh Orde’s decision to deploy. That decision has now been completely vindicated.
Yesterday, I held back from criticism of Martin McGuiness. After all, it was positive that he condemned the attack. This morning, I listened to an interview of Gerry Adams on the BBC on my way to work. At the beginning of it, Adams gave a reasonable account of himself, including an explanation as to why it took Sinn Fein 14 hours to make a statement about the attack. It was only at the end the interview that he lost the plot. He was asked why he objected to intelligence – gathering operations. He then tried to make a distinction between ongoing intelligence operations being carried out by MI5 and the deployment of troops, implying that the security services already had adequate intelligence.
I am not a military man or a policeman but neither is Gerry Adams. His party have criticised a decision made by a professional. He should know very well that security is not just about the Police Force. It may be that he has an ideological problem with UK soldiers being in Northern Ireland. I hope that is not the case.
Nationalists need to learn and appreciate that it is in their best interest to support the judgment of the Chief Constable and the security services. It would help boost confidence if they were to praise the security services for their high success already in reducing effect of dissident republicans to the extent that they have. Can Sinn Fein bring themselves to do that? Maybe they will, given time.
Today, there will be a debate at Stormont by politicians. Politicians should by all means condemn the violence and express sympathy for the victims. At least some semblance of solidarity will be good for the people of Northern Ireland.
Beyond that, Politicians need to keep their language restrained and debate dispassionately. They need to keep criticism indirect in the way that Nigel Dodds did on the radio this morning. All politicians need to understand that security should not be a political issue. Politicians have a right to make points about security but they need to strain against appearing divisive. If Unionists can keep the full power of their criticism of Sinn Fein’s stance for a “behind the scenes” discussion and if they can keep their public criticism indirect, then they will be acting in Northern Ireland’s best interests.
Filed under: Assembly, Crime, DUP, Gerry Adams, Martin McGuiness, Nigel Dodds, Police and Justice, Security, Sinn Fein, Stormont | Tagged: Assembly, Conservative Party, Crime, DUP, Gerry Adams, Martin McGuiness, Nigel Dodds, Northern Ireland politics, Police and Justice, Security, Sinn Fein, Stormont | Leave a Comment »