Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Orde speaks in PFC

Aine Fox

Chief Constable of the PSNI, Hugh Orde was introduced on Monday evening in the PFC to a reasonably sized crowd of academics, students and members of the public (including those involved with victim's groups arising from the 'Troubles')to speak on a topic which was readily recognised as an emotive and controversial one. His talk entitled 'Policing the Past to Police the Future' was centred on public enquiries and the contentious topic of State collusion.

The emphasis throughout was on the "high expense" of the said enquiries. A statistic of £2 million a year in staff and legal costs alone was given. Sir Hugh questioned why there should be a "hierarchy of death" recognising that there are only a select few deaths being investigated in this way and due to the sheer number of victims over the past thirty years the stark reality is that many cases will never be solved.

Mr Orde stressed his view that all groups on all sides who were involved in the violence of the past should be called to account and made to answer the difficult questions which he feels are currently being unfairly directed at the Police force and the State. He also referred to widows of RUC officers and other groups whom he feels are being neglected. Although promising that he would " ensure all material in my organsiation will be made available to all the enquiries" he suggested that compensatory schemes for victims and their families would perhaps be a more cost effective way of dealing with the issue.

When asked by Professor Brice Dickson whether there should perhaps be a general enquiry into state collusion he again reiterated that there were others to blame for Northern Ireland's troubles and said "It must be remembered that the vast majority of people were killed by terrorists". It was suggested by a member of the audience that the State was shirking its responsibilities here with an apparent failure to recognise its automatically higher level of responsibility to protect its citizens.

Although there was a small protest staged throughout the speech it was a silent and undisruptive one which Judge David Smyth QC (chairman of the debate which followed) allowed to continue in the name of free speech. He recognised the success of the evening saying "A few years ago this wouldn't have been easy, if possible" and he praised the virtue of the rule of law and the freedom of speech in open debate.


Anonymous the waiting room said...

Any more details of this protest? Interesting before tomorrow's debate of 'Should Sinn Fein support the police?'

11/16/2006 1:49 am  
Blogger Gown Team said...

The protest consisted of three young men displaying a banner with a picture of No 10 and the question 'Who sanctioned Britain's Death Squads?'. The men were silent except to answer a challenger from the audience by saying they were doing nothing to disrupt the talk. They left promptly after the Chief Inspector's speech so I couldn't get a quick interview with them.

11/16/2006 6:14 pm  
Anonymous sparrow said...

Any information as to whether these individuals were students of Queen's?

As with many of these stunts they are performed by people from outside the university. These events should be for students ONLY or they are open to abuse.

11/16/2006 6:34 pm  
Anonymous Belfast DJ said...

Nothing to do with the topic - bit of a wierd one actually, but do you guys know that NME (the world-famous music mag) has got a link to The Gown on its website?!

I check it pretty regularly and under its Belfast section you lot are on it (why I don't know). The link is:

It says and I quote,

"The Gown
Well established, student-run independent newspaper that has launched the careers of several top journalists and celebrated its 50th birthday last year."

11/18/2006 3:58 pm  
Blogger Gown Team said...

Belfast DJ - The description on the NME site is accurate. Journalists such as Mark Carruthers, Simon Doyle and Nick Ross (of Crimewatch fame) have all been involved with The Gown in the past. The newspaper has been established for 51 years now and we endeavour to continue its work for years to come.

11/19/2006 8:01 pm  
Blogger Gown Team said...

With reference to the comment from Sparrow, it is not known whether these men were students of Queen's. However, it was recognised by Judge David Smyth himself who was in attendance that they had every right to be there and were doing nothing to disrupt the talk. Surely peaceful protest in this democratic socety of ours should be encouraged? Limiting the attendance of these talks to Queen's students would deprive others with a genuine interest in the speaker/topic from the benefits of hearing the many 'big-name' guest speakers who come to Queen's. Surely this would be a negative step.

11/19/2006 8:05 pm  
Anonymous sparrow said...

No- I can't agree with what you are saying.

Obviously they had right to be there as the event was open to the public. But I personally don't think this should be the case. The problem comes when people in attendance pretend to be students. On occasions their behaviour can bring the University's reputation into disrepute.

For example at one of the events during political awareness week the youth development officers of Sinn Fein Barry Mc Colgan got up and praised the work of his employer! Does this abuse of the system not clearly demonstrate how such events should be for QUB students only??

Let the general public organise their own events and QUB can organise their own.

11/19/2006 10:02 pm  
Anonymous rudolph said...

What I would like to know is who sanctioned the IRA's death squad?

And from the Republic of Ireland government there is a need for an explanation as to why they harboured these terrorists.

11/20/2006 9:30 pm  
Anonymous sparrow said...

I am lead to believe that the Cultural Affairs officer of the SU attended this event instead of the inaugural meeting of the SRC.

Could she please clarify this claim?

A meeting, at which, she ought to have given a talk about the role of the Cultural Affairs Committee. Surely this must constitute a neglect of her duties?

I call for a vote of no confidence in the said officer!

11/25/2006 11:10 pm  

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