Fr Mc Manus On His Visit to Garnerville PSNI Training Center

Posted By: September 07, 2006


Thursday, September 7, 2006

On Thursday, August 17, 2006 I spent three and a half hours
visiting the Garnerville PSNI Training Center.

My visit was urged, and arranged, by the Special Envoy for
Northern Ireland, Dr. Mitchell Reiss.

Dr. Reiss made the argument to me that, since I have been a long
time critic of Northern Ireland policing, I ought to hear in
person the PSNI point of view.

Because of the intrinsic merit of his argument, and because of my
respect for Dr. Reiss and his Office, I consented to the visit.

I met with Deputy Chief Constable, Paul Leighton and three of his
male colleagues. Deputy Leighton immediately apologized on behalf
of Chief Constable Hugh Orde who could not be present as he was
on vacation.

I raised all the tough questions. And they answered in an upfront
and business-like manner. I was impressed by their openness,
professionalism and their evident concern to convey their
commitment to a ” new beginning ” to policing in Northern
Ireland. They struck me as fine, decent men. I found myself, I
must confess, wanting to believe that they accurately and
authentically reflect the new approach to policing — both
institutionally and individually.

I was also given the opportunity to speak privately (without
supervision or recording, I was assured) to about nine recruits,
men and women. I was impressed by their caliber and enthusiasm.

We all know that an acceptable police service — “Š effective and
efficient, fair and impartial, free from partisan political
controlŠ” as envisioned by the Good Friday Agreement — is
absolutely essential if the peace-process is to succeed. It is my
hope that the PSNI can prove to the Catholic community that it
can be trusted, that the bad old days are truly over, that
sectarianism and collusion are gone, root and branch. That means
that the British Government must first come clean on collusion,
something that has now been made harder by the key role given to
MI5 in Northern Ireland and by the gutting of the Public Inquiry

Father Sean Mc Manus
Irish National Caucus
P.O. Box 15128
Capitol Hill
Washington, D.C. 20003-0849