Tim McGarry: Creating two police forces is the way to keep everyone happy

My car is so sophisticated that you need a Masters Degree in Computer Science and a PhD in Software Engineering just to change the time on the clock.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 11:00 am
Tim McGarry

I spent an hour trying to change the hour that went forward last week. I failed. So the clock in my car is an hour behind real time.

Then I turned on the news and found all of Northern Ireland had gone back in time too.

I bet Simon Byrne wishes he could turn the clock back, to around January 2019 when he first saw an ad in the paper and thought to himself “ Hmm. PSNI. Northern Ireland. That sounds like it could be a lot of fun!”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

First Minister Arlene Foster says she is not speaking to PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne. Picture: Ronan McGrade/Pacemaker Press

Maybe Simon thought we had put the old sectarian divisions behind us and that Northern Ireland was all Derry Girls, pints of Guinness and crack. And the only thing he’d have to investigate was the mysterious disappearance of Rory McIlroy’s accent.

It was not to be. This week “Northern Ireland” was trending on twitter. For those of you unfamiliar with social media, trending is rarely a good thing.

A funeral nine months ago has so enraged many young people that they felt the need to set fire to their own areas, and occasionally themselves.

To my mind political violence is never justified. Never mind murder,

Carl Frampton's fight with Jamal Herring was a mismatch in terms of height, like Robin Swann taking on Peter Crouch. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Ireland and Ulster are not worth a sprained ankle or a paper cut. So this week’s scenes were ugly reminders of the very bad old days.

And according to unionists it’s all Simon Byrne’s fault.

Arlene Foster refuses to even meet Simon which is a pity. It means he is unable to repeatedly cough and simultaneously shout ‘RHI” every time she insists he should resign.

Police impartiality is of course important but the public can’t agree what it actually looks like. Clearly our politicians know best. So I have a modest proposal. Scrap the PSNI. Instead let’s have two police services. We could call them PSU - the Police Service of Ulster and PSN - the Police Service of the North.

And just for fun, Arlene gets to appoint the PSN Chief Constable and Gerry Kelly appoints the head of the PSU.

The PSU get to police republican funerals and the PSN get the 12th.

Instead of the unwieldy Policing Board each Chief Constable should be answerable only to a panel of four judges at the DUP Conference and Sinn Fein’s Ard Fheis, where they are marked the same way as Strictly Come Dancing. A Len Goodman-like seven means you get to keep your job.

This should keep everybody happy, or at least keep everybody equally unhappy which, let’s be honest, is what our politicians think is the true purpose of policing.

The other issue distressing the youthful rioters is of course, phytosanitary checks and veterinary inspections.

Say what you like about Sammy Wilson but he has brought jobs to his East Antrim constituency.

Unfortunately for him they are all as EU customs officials in Larne.

So all in all this has not been a good time for Team Ulster. Unionist parties are being accused by nationalists of a lacking strong leadership.

As a joke I was going to make this column about how I should be made the new leader of unionism.

But I didn’t, because I was genuinely concerned that the UUP might ring me up and offer me Steve Aiken’s job.

• They say comedy is hard but boxing is harder. A lot harder. You can do comedy in your 50s. And you don’t get punched - well not as often as boxers.

Many people find boxing brutal, but it is part ballet, part martial-art.

It involves incredible agility, precision, dexterity and fortitude. It is the fusion of the physical and the psychological, the violent and the spiritual.

Which is why I spent last Saturday evening screaming at the TV “Come on Carl!! Whack him! Knock his melt in!!!”

There was a substantial height difference in the Jemel Herring Carl Frampton fight in favour of Herring. To be honest it looked a bit like Peter Crouch fighting Robin Swann.

And unfortunately Carl lost- or as we say in Northern Ireland, he came Deputy First.

After the fight Carl announced his retirement from boxing.

I have been a Frampton fan for many years and been to several of his fights.

Carl and I are actually very similar. He is a young, fit, universally liked, double world champion from North Belfast. And I am also…from North Belfast.

Carl Frampton is a man of very high character. The only evidence to the contrary is his support for Crusaders FC, but all great men should be allowed a flaw.

In victory he was always magnanimous. In defeat he was dignified. He treated all his opponents with respect.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers — and consequently the revenue we receive — we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Alistair Bushe

Editor