Mary O'Rawe


This Article will chart the extent to which this phenomenon has been and is recurring in Northern Ireland since the period of the 1994 Irish Republican Army ("IRA") ceasefire. It will examine the dangers in underestimating the capacity of institutions, structures, and individuals to resist change. It will also explore the potential of such resistance to claw back gains that on the face of it have already been made in formal inter-party negotiations. In the process, the Article will seek to identify why real change in policing is both so important and so difficult in a society seeking to leave violent conflict behind. In Part I, the themes outlined above will be explored through surfacing the dialectic between an official police discourse, which tends to be organizationally-minded, managerialist, and reformist, and a more holistic policing discourse rooted firmly in notions of human rights, community, and the challenging of extant power relations within society. Part II will super-impose onto this framework, the particular complexities and needs of a society in transition. In Part III, the Article will explore, how, if at all, this new rhetoric evidenced a changed dynamic which led political parties in Northern Ireland to a degree of consensus on policing issues. In Part IV, the role of external intervention will be discussed through the prism of the Patten process and the Commission's eventual recommendations. Part V will note that scarcely before the ink was dry on the Patten Report, there were forces at work to claw back the parameters of the debate and hurl policing back into the party political argy-bargy, which had necessitated an independent commission in the first place. Part V will conclude that the post-Patten period, despite ushering in obvious and apparently extensive changes, still attests to the past being allowed to reassert itself in a new guise. Drawing on the preceding analysis, Part VI will attempt to draw some lessons from the Northern Ireland process that could also have resonance for other jurisdictions coping with transition.