Letter: Problems of policing Ulster

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The Independent Online
YOU COMPLAIN that the RUC is almost exclusively Protestant (Leading article, 29 August). That is hardly its fault when Catholic leaders have for years shunned the force and discouraged any recruitment from their community which might have helped to redress the balance. Despite this, one Catholic has become Chief Constable and a number of others have attained senior rank. Given that the present authorised strength is well above that justifiable under peaceful conditions, how can a fairer balance now be achieved without mass "redundancies" and further recruitment after obtaining special dispensation from current fair-employment and anti-religious discrimination legislation?

You then suggest, of the supposed Patten proposals, that "nothing will stick in the Unionist gullet as much as attempts to accommodate the paramilitaries into policing arrangements" and that "each local community would be able to contract out street-level security in certain areas". As your leader says, this is precisely the problem: the de facto control exercised over the lives of citizens, by beatings, knee-cappings and threats of exile or death, conducted at the whim of local heavies in the respective paramilitary gangs. Under no circumstances can gangsters be welcomed into legitimate policing in Belfast, any more than in Glasgow or London.

GRAHAM SINCLAIR

Norwich, Norwich

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