RUC Head Hammered in Congressional Hearing

Posted By: March 29, 2013

Washington, D.C., October 10, 1997 — It was not a good day for the RUC on Capitol Hill yesterday. The force, especially its Head, Ronnie Flanagan, was subjected to fierce criticism.

The Chairman of the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), lambasted Chief Flanagan as hostile, insensitive, and as “being in denial”, as he recounted his meeting with Flanagan in Belfast last August, Congressman Smith expressed complete lack of confidence in Flanagan’s ability or desire to lead a fair-minded, just police force.

Appearing before the Hearing, which lasted from 1 P.M. to 3:45 P.M., were five witnesses: (1) Julia Hall, Northern Ireland Researcher for Human Rights Watch; (2) Jane Winter, Director of British Irish Rights Watch; (3) Martin O’Brien, Director of the Committee on the Administration of Justice; (4) Halya Gowan, Northern Ireland Researcher for Amnesty International; (5) Elisa Massimino, Director of the Washington office of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.

One case that received prominent attention was that of Sean Kelly, falsely imprisoned as part of the Casement Accused. Congressman Smith recounted how when he raised the case of Kelly with Chief Flanagan — who had asserted that he was very familiar with all such cases — Flanagan replied, “Who is Sean Kelly?”

The Hearing which was held to investigate how human rights could be a central part of the peace process, heard unanimous testimony of the importance of human rights if the peace process were to succeed.