Policing in Northern Ireland

Police blocking approved path of the Long March civil rights protest.

The Special Powers Act enacted in 1922 gave police much power over citizens, which caused great  fear in the Catholic community because the Royal Ulster Constabulary was 90% Protestant. Due to jobs jobs given to mostly Protestants, especially government jobs, the police was majority Protestants. When tensions ran high this act law made Catholics fearful of what could happen to them because this act gave them power to arrest someone and send them to prison without trial. When the civil rights movement started and peaceful marches were breaking out into violence, policeman did very little to protect  the Catholics from the violence. In many cases they watched and did nothing. Bernadette Devlin watched a policeman look on as four Protestants and beat a protester during the incident at Burntollet Bridge. The Catholics knew that they had no government system in place to help them.

 

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