Tag Archives: Police Service of Northern Ireland

Catching up with modern Ireland: January

The new year got off to a fast start with the restoration of the power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly, successful U.K. and E.U. Brexit votes, and announced Feb. 8 elections in the Republic of Ireland.

In the North, the Assembly’s three-year dormancy has laid bare “a state of deep crisis across the territory’s neglected public and political institutions,” The New York Times reported Jan. 22. Residents “wonder whether and how the regional government will be able to overhaul public services like health and education that have declined to the point of near collapse.”

Brexit Day is Jan. 31. Britain and the E.U. approved the separation and now begin negotiating a trade deal. Prospect, a U.K. publication, speculates on How Northern Ireland could use Brexit to its advantage.

With less than 10 days before elections in the Republic, polls show that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael party has fallen 7 percentage points to 23 percent since November, while rival Fianna Fail is up 2 points to 26 percent, according to a Jan. 26 roundup by Reuters. Sinn Fein was up 8 points to 19 percent and may play a role in deciding the eventual coalition government. Visit The Irish Times‘ “Inside Politics” podcast.

I’ll have more election posts in February. Now, other January news:

  • In America, the Jesuit Review, Ciara Murphy writes Ireland is fine with fracking—as long as it happens in Pennsylvania. Her piece hits close to home for me: the project site on the River Shannon estuary in North Kerry is near where my maternal grandparents lived before they emigrated to … Western Pennsylvania, center of the U.S. fracking industry and my birthplace. “For the Irish government to continue with the L.N.G. terminal on the basis of energy security for Irish people is to disregard the harm caused to people in Pennsylvania,” Murphy writes.

North Kerry LNG site.

  • Maps comparing Ireland’s island-wide rail networks in 1920 to 2020–the former being more robust–went viral on social media. The images came from a report by Irish and U.K. business interests to highlight the value of a shared all-island economy between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
  • There were 67 victims of paramilitary-style assaults in Northern Ireland in 2019, up from 51 in 2018, Foreign Policy reported, citing Police Service of Northern Ireland data, in a story speculating about a post-Brexit return to sectarian violence.
  • Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who might have revving her 2020 reelection campaign, has been appointed chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, a largely ceremonial role. She is expected to hold the post through early 2025.
  • Marian Finucane, a longtime RTÉ radio journalist, died Jan. 2, age 69. She was “one of a small number of people instantly recognized in Ireland by their first name only … [a] testament to the intimacy of her relationship with listeners,” The Irish Times obituary said.
  • Former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon, one of the architects of the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement, died Jan. 24, age 83.

B.C.’s Irish Institute exchange fellows visit D.C.

In a forlorn corner of Dublin, a sign at the entrance of a youth diversion community center warns against bringing alcohol inside the building. At a similar youth center in a low-income neighborhood of metro Boston, the sign at the front warns against bringing in guns.

That’s just one of many differences between the criminal justice system in Ireland and the United States, as detailed by 13 professionals in the fields of law enforcement, youth justice, and law visiting Boston from Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Irish Institute at Boston College hosted the exchange fellows, who spoke to Irish Network-D.C. on 3 June before returning home.

Youth justice worker Ashling Golden of Dublin made the observation about the two signs. She said programs that divert young people from the criminal justice system have resulted in youth crime dropping to seven in 100 from 13 in 100. Such programs, she said, are much less expensive than imprisonment.

Sgt. Gavin O’Reilly of An Garda Síochána said gun crimes are on the rise in Ireland. He observed that Boston and other American police agencies seem to do a better job of sharing information across agencies, but added the relationship between law enforcement in the Republic and the Police Service of Northern Ireland is improving. O’Reilly also said the U.S. does a better job of engaging third-party partners from the community to help police deal with troubled youth.

Maura McCallion, division head for the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, told me that while many Catholic and Protestant youth in the north have fallen away from the practice their religion, they still hold tightly to those community identifications. And that continues to cause problems in the flash points of Belfast and other parts of Ulster.