February 20, 2016

#NorthernIreland2016 Interview Series - RUC Diary

RUC Diary appeared on Twitter in 2014 and came to prominence with its raw and emotive tweets. The Twitter post put to the public the daily diary worries of an RUC officer based out of Donegal Pass. Events ranged from the mundane to the manic and murderous. 
For a Northern Ireland Twitter community that is made up heavily of millennials and peace process babies who never experiences the violence and fear of the Troubles these snippets of information were profoundly moving and richly informative.

The administrator of the profile wishes to remain private, but for the purposes of this interview we will refer to the individual as Donald Pascal. Donald was born in Belfast. He grew up in Bangor and attended Gransha high school. He left education aged 16 years old. After a short lived career as a civil servant Donald applied to join the Police in 1980. Aged just 19 he joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary. For the majority of his career he was based out of Donegall pass, but spent five years I within the specialist HMSU (Headquaters Mobile Support Unit). This role took him throughout the province.

Donald said that "My career as a Police Officer during Northern Ireland’s most turbulent of times tested me to my limit." He added, "Like many of my colleagues I have seen more death and traumatic injuries than is good for anyone. I have had high velocity rounds fired at me for doing nothing more than doing my job."

He finished by saying, "To this day, I have no regret in joining the RUC. I have since retired and I am enjoying a quiet and private life."

Brian John Spencer: "When did you first learn about the Easter Rising of 1916?" RUC Diary:
"I don’t recall ever learning about the Easter Rising whilst in school and I certainly do not recall hearing my family or peers talking about it. For me, I first became aware of it whilst serving as a young police officer. Often we would be informed off the various Easter Rising Commemorations taking place. It was common for masked men to make statements/threats on behalf of the PIRA at these commemorations. RUC were tasked with monitoring such events.
It was not uncommon for members of the UK Special Forces and intelligence agencies to attend such events in an attempt to gather intelligence on known IRA members and supporters. These undercover operations carried great risk however they did provide vital intelligence in the fight against terrorism." 
BJS: "Do the men, the act or the stated ideals in the proclamation mean anything to you?" RUC Diary:
"Quite honestly, no. I respect the wishes of those that wish to commemorate it but I myself feel  little or no connection to the Easter Rising. I course acknowledge that there is a deep historical relationship that connects us all on the island of Ireland."
BJS: "When did you first learn about the Battle of the Somme?" RUC Diary:
"I have a vauge memory of learning about this during history in school. My father, uncle and grandfather both served as British Soldiers. I recall being in British Legions and seeing paintings and literature on the Somme.  I also attended remembrance Sunday events throughout my childhood and career."
BJS: "Does this act, the men and their determination to show their loyalty to Britain mean anything to you?" RUC Diary:
"When I think of the Somme my mind naturally drifts to remembrance. I think about my family and friends that have passed whilst serving. This my personal reaction to it."

BJS: "As a (British/Irish/Northern Irish*) person, is the 1916 Rising important to you and your sense of identity and sense of belonging on this island?" RUC Diary:
"I wouldn’t say it is important to me or my sense of identity. However,  I am acutely aware of how we all share the history of this island. Both green and orange, British and Irish, Protestant and Catholic. In connects us all in my eyes. To separate history into two separate camps will only perpetuate our troubles."
BJS: "Will you be commemorating or celebrating either of these two events in April and July of this year respectively?" RUC Diary:

"No, I personally will not be attending either event. This is a personal choice based on my personal circumstances."
BJS: "As a person on (or from) the island are you happy with the where we are now at in terms of culture, cosmopolitanism and broad-mindedness?" RUC Diary:
"My entire career was orbited by the bloody sectarian conflict that ravaged this island. I often have to try and explain to family and friends from other lands what it is all about. I tend to describe the current issues in terms of a clash of identities. 
It pains me that Northern Ireland still remains a divided society and a lasting peace remains elusive. Today is a much safer and happier place than when I walked my first beat as a constable. I can see that integration and the growing political voice of the post conflict generation is contributing to the lessening of the conflict. I am happy, yes. But I could be happier."
BJS: "What are your hopes for the future of this divided province and island?" RUC Diary:
"I’d love to see Northern Ireland continue to take strides into the world of peace. Our young people will hopefully continue to mould and sculpt the province into something great. Promoting all that is positive about this part of the world. Showing off our pride and optimism. Cities and towns will hopefully continue to be revitalised with millions being invested in regeneration. I’d love it for our brightest graduates to stay in NI."
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