Irish National Caucus, President,Father Sean Mc Manus, 4 february 2006

A letter to Mitchel Reiss

Dr. Mitchel Reiss
Special Envoy for Northern Ireland
Saturday, February 4, 2006

Dear Mitchel,
Because of your strong, unreserved support of the PSNI, I thought you would be interested in the enclosed article from Daily Ireland, “PSNI won’t become representative of wider society in North until 2027” (Friday, February 3, 2006).

On your recent visit to Northern Ireland, you generated the following headline “PSNI THE BEST IN EUROPE SAYS REISS” (January 27, 2006.

Sean Mc Manus

Sean Mc Manus

Many of us wish your support for the PSNI were a little bit more critical and cautious. It would be a pity if your good work for Ireland became overshadowed by your exuberant and uncritical support for a police service about which there are still many profoundly disturbing questions. Remember how the good work (however belated) of JFK and LBJ for Civil Rights came to be overshadowed in the African-American community by the nefarious work of the wretched J. Edgar Hoover and his racist FBI?

If you have not already read it, I would strongly recommend you read “Racial Matters: the FBI’s secret file on Black America, 1960-1972” by Kenneth O’Reilly (The Free Press. New York. 1989). Permit me to give you a quote from this very important study:

During the March on Washington, SNCC Chairman John Lewis wanted to know which side the federal government was on. In 1979, fifteen years after Freedom Summer, a group of movement veterans gathered in Jackson, Mississippi, to reconsider those times and to try to answer Lewis’s question. When one of them railed against “the subversion” of the movement by “the self-styled ‘pragmatism’ of those splendid scoundrels residing in the Camelot on the Potomac,” he received ” a cheering, standing ovation”. One of the persons in the audience, New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis, said he came expecting a celebration of amazing change but instead found bitterness directed not at “the old segregationists of Mississippi but Northern liberals and, especially, the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations. (page 356).

No Catholic from Northern Ireland can read that quote without profound resonance.

Like you, I too want to see an acceptable police service (“fair and impartial, free from partisan political control; accountable, both under the law for its actions and to the community it serves…”, as the Good Friday Agreement envisioned) but the enclosed article does little to inspire confidence.

Nor does the conduct of the PSNI in the recent past. For example, former policeman, the very brave Jonty Brown, has publicly admitted that he is in fear of his life, not from the IRA, but form elements in the Special Branch because he has exposed their collusion. (See the enclosed article, “Former colleagues will try to kill me” By Connla Young Daily Ireland. January 2, 2006″). Yet you have remained silent on matters like this, while being quite vocal about other accusations regarding Republicans.

I feel it is very important that you avoid any appearance of a double-standard. So I urge you to speak out on these matters so that your good work for Ireland will not be overshadowed by headlines like “PSNI the best in Europe” (and, yes, I know you don’t write the headlines).

It would be a profound tragedy if the honest-broker title of the Special Envoy for Northern Ireland came to be replaced by that of “Recruiting-Sergeant for the PSNI”.

Thank you,

Father Sean Mc Manus
Irish National Caucus

P.O. Box 15128
Capitol Hill
Washington, D.C. 20003-0849