Cover image for The crowned harp : policing Northern Ireland
The crowned harp : policing Northern Ireland
Ellison, Graham.
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Publication Information:
London ; Sterling, Va. : Pluto Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xix, 218 pages ; 23 cm.
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HV8197.5.A2 E55 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This book is a detailed analysis of policing in Northern Ireland. Tracing its history from 1922, Ellison and Smyth portray the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) as an organisation burdened by its past as a colonial police force.They analyse its perceived close relationship with unionism and why, for many nationalists, the RUC embodied the problem of the legitimacy of Northern Ireland, arguing that decisions made on the organisation, composition and ideology of policing in the early years of the state had consequences which went beyond the everyday practice of policing.Examining the reorganisations of the RUC in the 1970s and 1980s, Ellison and Smyth focus on the various structural, legal and ideological components, the professionalisation of the force and the development of a coherent, if contradictory, ideology.

Author Notes

Graham Ellison is a lecturer in the Department of Criminology at Keele University
Jim Smyth is a lecturer in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at Queen's University, Belfast

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The two books review the contentious issue of police practices in Northern Ireland, a state divided by class, ethnicity, and national identity. They complement each other nicely, but readers would do well to start with The Crowned Harp for a fuller historical treatment of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). It is an exceptionally well written and broad study of policing and public order, particularly from the "Troubles" in the late 1960s to the present. The authors view the RUC as a sectarian, paramilitary force, unlike any other in the UK, whose function was largely to maintain (Protestant) Unionist hegemony. The book illuminates in detail the succession of public order and counterinsurgency tactics by the UK government over the past 30 years, including the role of the army during the several years it virtually superseded the RUC in peacekeeping. After 1988 the RUC and its auxiliary units were utterly unable to deal with the Catholic civil rights movement and reacted to it as if it had been a plot from the Irish Republic. Police and army excesses, internment without trial policy, and even killings helped create a more militant Catholic nationalism and provided recruiting opportunities for the IRA. The struggle then took on another dimension. It is a lesson in how not to do things. Even with mild reforms the RUC is still regarded with considerable unease by the Catholic minority. Policing and Conflict is a slighter work, somewhat repetitious but clearly written, and is concerned largely with schemes for RUC reorganization. The authors reject the disbanding of the RUC or dividing it into a variety of police agencies or multiple jurisdictions. They prefer "agency based" reforms that would result in a new, more inclusive Northern Ireland Police Service, recruited and trained by outside civilian-run agencies, focusing on community policing, and divorced from the authoritarian practices of the RUC. It would employ more women, Catholics, and civilians (in nonpolice functions). By way of comparison, the book briefly examines police reforms in other divided societies like Spain, the Netherlands, and South Africa. In other words, Northern Ireland's police culture must change to reflect a society of increasing diversity. Readers will need some understanding of the basic events in Northern Ireland, but they will profit much from these fine books. Upper-division undergraduate collections and above. P. T. Smith Saint Joseph's University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. xiii
1. Policing Nineteenth-century Irelandp. 1
2. Policing After Partition: Constructing the Security Apparatusp. 18
3. Policing Under Stormontp. 32
4. The Impact of Civil Rights on Policingp. 54
5. Criminalisation and Normalisation: The Counter-Insurgency Solutionp. 72
6. Legitimacy, Counter-Insurgency and Policing: The Legacy of the 1970sp. 92
7. Shooting to Kill?p. 116
8. Collusion and Death Squadsp. 134
9. Symbolism, Surveys and Police Legitimacyp. 150
10. Epilogue: The Patten Report on the RUCp. 177
Notesp. 190
Bibliographyp. 196
Indexp. 210