Letter: Policing Ulster

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Sir: Fergal Keane (Comment, 24 November) refers to the withdrawal by Donegal Celtic from their match against RUC.

The attempt to police a society of two communities with an RUC force drawn from one community has predictably failed. Fergal Keane says imbalance in RUC membership is due to IRA intimidation of prospective members. He does not explain how this occurred in the years prior to 1971 when the IRA was dormant. The fact that all applicants to the RUC were required to swear a unionist oath is a more credible reason.

Fundamental reform of the Northern Irish police force is an essential element of the peace process. Chris Patten's review offers some hope that this might take place, but that hope is slight. The reform should have happened sixty years ago.

It is the right of the nationalist community to urge their local team to withdraw from a football match if that withdrawal can to bring attention to the denial of fair policing. IRA violence in the past has rightly been condemned, but nationalist community are not to be attacked for peaceful protest against obvious wrong. Peaceful protest is to be encouraged as a guarantor of peace, and should be listened to, not attacked.


Coulsdon, Surrey