In his novel “1984”, George Orwell wrote:
“Hardly a week passed in which the Times did not carry a paragraph describing how some eavesdropping little sneak-‘child hero’ was the phrase generally used-had overheard some compromising remark and denounced its parents to the Thought Police.”
A recent Metropolitan Police anti-terrorism campaign encouraged law-abiding citizens to look through each others’ bins to check for “suspicious items such as chemical bottles and to report any troubling findings to the police” Fake blondes-hide that peroxide bottle! I’ve struggled to find the Troubling Findings Act.
China’s Ministry of Supervision has a discipline watchdog which opened the “unified informant hotline” for the public to report discipline offences of civil servants and officials.
Eavesdropping and informing on each other to the Stasi was a way of life in East Germany.
Stalin’s regime relied on “mutual surveillance” urging families to report on each other about ‘disloyalty’.
So how grateful must we be to live in a liberal democracy.
Not so. This blog is not about the programme of informers during the Troubles. Like Scap, Donaldson , Sean Maguire and Brian Gillen, they got their money and , those still alive are living a comfortable life, protected by the British State.
This blog is about what is happening in our communities now. It is about democracy, freedom of speech and the ability to protest.
Many Loyalist areas of Belfast have taken the Queen’s Shilling in return for compliance. The Greater Shankill is an example of that. The killing of Bobby Moffett has been swept under the carpet so long as the locals support the GFA. The Spectrum Centre doles out nearly a million pounds each year ,to the locals in wages. The UVF and Arlene are at peace.
Other communities are not GFA supporters. The result is that they are subject to harassment by the PSNI, as an arm of the State. Frequent use of the Terrorism Act 2000, in dubious circumstances. Searches of legitimate community facilities for “loyalist paraphernalia”. The stop and search of individuals on a regular basis, in breach of the codes of practice. Stops by ‘Road Policing’ with bogus allegations of no insurance or road tax.
It’s not a crime, of course, to oppose the GFA.
Or is it?
Lets read a new document. It is entitled:
“THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE (ON BEHALF OF THE TACKLING PARAMILITARISM PROGRAMME BOARD)
Building capacity in communities in Transition Project (2017-2021)
Tenders are invited to support the delivery of this project.”
The programme “is committed to promoting the use of peaceful and democratic means and upholding the rule of law across all communities”
So consider this , Dear Reader. In the proposals which tenderers can make , is the requirement that they show an “outline of how information will be shared with police on individuals who do not support transition”
“Transition” is not defined anywhere.
The Board is chaired by the Department of Justice and is comprised of civil servants and the PSNI.
So , if you want to get your community nose into this particular trough you will have to undertake to snitch on those who are not supporting “transition”.
“Feed your Snout-be a Tout” might be the catch phrase.
Of course , the document is keen to espouse the rule of law. The rule of law encompasses ‘no punishment without law’.
What law is being broken which requires the citizen to “share information” with the PSNI about an individual who does not support transition?
The answer is that this programme , aside from offering monetary bribes, further undermines the rule of law. The PSNI willingly particpates , not only by harassment but by being part of the supervising body. The Stasi would be impressed.
The lesson is that you can be a paramilitary as long as you are a State approved-GFA loving paramilitary. Otherwise you are in big trouble.
It’s unlikely that any mainstream politician will put his/her head over the much funded parapet about this.
Approximately one third of the workforce depend on the State for their mortgage. In addition, vast swathes of the middle classes , including journalists ,are paid fees by the BBC, the Housing Executive and every other public body for services rendered. The country is in the grip of the Security Service, forget about Brokenshire. Even Stalin would be impressed with such a compliant body, when it is allied to the likes of the Greater Shankill Partnership Soviet.
It’s hard not to conclude that democracy and freedom of speech died in Northern Ireland years ago.