The politics of the transformation of policing
Doyle, John (2010) The politics of the transformation of policing. In: Doyle, John, (ed.) Policing the Narrow Ground: Lessons from the Transformation of Policing in Northern Ireland. Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, Ireland, pp. 167-211. ISBN 9781904890669
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The politics of policing transformation in Northern Ireland, the nature and timing of the Agreements that created the the atmosphere for such transformation, and the difficulty in reaching them, are clear evidence that policing powers and structures are an integral part of the constitutional framework of contested societies and not a lower-order matter that can be more easily divided up as ‘spoils of peace’. Each step in the process of change, from the 1998 Agreement, to the debate on the International Commission’s Report (Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, A new beginning: policing in Northern Ireland. Report of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, often referred to as the Patten Report)., to the various inter-party talks and agreements, linked discussion on policing to other issues in the peace process, such as governmental power-sharing, North–South cooperative institutions, demilitarisation by the British Army, arms decommissioning by the IRA and other equality issues such as language rights. Both nationalists and unionists strongly linked police reform to the wider peace process, and progress on policing would have been impossible without agreement on an open-ended constitutional framework that required neither political community to abandon their longer-term political goals. Nationalists did not and would not have abandoned their political campaign for a united Ireland in return for policing reform. Unionists would not have accepted the transformation of policing without a balanced constitutional and political agreement and without the IRA ending its armed campaign. Without a transformation of Northern Ireland itself there would have been no transformation of policing. The transformation was explicitly linked to the consociational power-sharing model at the heart of the new political structures in Northern Ireland, and the interlinked institutions between the Northern Ireland executive and the government of the Republic of Ireland.
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