International Development, Community, and Environment


Police and Military in Ulster: Peacekeeping or Peace-subverting Forces?

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While police and military typically are dealt with separately, even by separate specialists, in actual practice the role of the police is shaped by the role of the military. The reverse is also true: the role of the military is shaped by that assigned to the police. This is most clearly apparent in situations of domestic disorder. But it is not enough to trace the relations between the police and the military themselves. One must examine the anxieties and strategies of the central state elites, for their policies will determine what formula of police-military division of labor will be used to enhance state security. The history of Ireland and, more recently, of Ulster sheds light on this more general phenomenon. The very origins of the police in the United Kingdom can be found in the central government‘s desire to relieve the army of the burden (and risk) of internal order- keeping. But the police models created for Britain and Ireland were quite different. The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), the predecessor of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, was designed to be a paramilitary force; that is, it was a police force intended to maintain the political order, not simply to protect citizen security. Since 1962, the division of labor between police and military once again has been reversed. The central state security planners were compelled to bring in the military when the RUC no longer could maintain that political order, due not only to escalating communal conflict, but also to weaknesses inherent in the RUC, especially its overwhelmingly Protestant com position. Today, however, London is trying to restore the security division of labor that it deems optimal. A key to that restoration is ‘primacy of the police’. Whether citizen security will be thus enhanced, or merely state security bolstered by such a policy, is problematic at best. © 1978, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.

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Journal of Peace Research

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armed forces, peacekeeping forces, police