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Sir Ronnie Flanagan
Sir Ronnie Flanagan
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW:
SIR RONNIE FLANAGAN JANUARY 13TH, 2002

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST:
Well now police are still on high alert across Belfast today, earlier in the week sectarian violence flared up in the streets around the Holy Cross Primary School in the north of the city which was a scene of a bitter dispute last year. Serious rioting broke out on several nights in the Catholic Ardoyne area of the city which is near the school, many police officers were injured when rioters attacked with petrol bombs and yesterday a Catholic postal worker was murdered. I'm joined this morning now by the Chief Constable of the newly formed Police Service of Northern Ireland, Sir Ronnie Flanagan. Ronnie good morning.

RONNIE FLANAGAN:
Good morning.

DAVID FROST:
We heard on the wires, just as the programme was beginning, that progress has been made on that murder that we just mentioned?

RONNIE FLANAGAN:
It's a dreadful murder, an appallingly cowardly murder and we've arrested two people and they're now in custody being questioned in connection with that murder.

DAVID FROST:
So that is progress in a tragic situation?

RONNIE FLANAGAN:
Well it's some progress in an absolutely tragic situation, the sectarianism we've witnessed recently is barbaric and of course as always our officers are between these communities who seek to attack each other and when we prevent that they both seek to attack us.

DAVID FROST:
And what about Holy Cross, the catalyst for Wednesday's violence seemed to be two mothers who were arguing and that seems an extraordinary caususbelli for what then happened, did it start as small as that or was it just that tensions have been running high there for months?

RONNIE FLANAGAN:
I think it's a function of those tensions which have been going on for such a long time. But thankfully when it happened on Wednesday and then again on Thursday evening there was a lot of activity by clergy, by local politicians and thankfully we had a much quieter time on Friday and I hope that persists. But it was followed up of course by an attack on the property, the cars of teachers at another local Catholic school and that was followed up by threats so we're working very closely with the teachers organisation, we're working with the postal workers as well and, and hopefully all working together we can bring this dreadful activity to an end.

DAVID FROST:
But Father Aidan Troy Chairman of the Board of Governors of Holy Cross said if we could get a pull back of young boys from this nightly rioting I think it would be a great help to the whole community, is youth, or are youths at the centre of this more than they used to be?

RONNIE FLANAGAN:
I think that's a sad reality that people that we're arresting in possession of pipe bombs and sadly in recent times we've seen two young men losing their lives in possession of these pipe bombs, and these are people with no previous records of that sort of activity, while the godfathers sit back the evil people who are manipulating the youth and of course when we seek to arrest them and make searches in connection with these godfathers they're usually absolutely clean. So it is a sad reality that youth are becoming more involved. Just last evening in the New Lodge area we, as a result of a planned search, recovered blast bombs, an automatic submachine gun, a shotgun, a mine containing high explosives. Some of these blast bombs were of the type thrown at my officers in Ardoyne last Thursday evening. So right across the board the sad reality is that young people are showing a preparedness to be involved in this dreadful activity.

DAVID FROST:
And what about the reforms in general, I mean it's a few months now of the new system and you, you've got a new title, are you going to continue, as one papers said you might continue longer than you said when, when we were last talking, you might continue until September or the end of the year?

RONNIE FLANAGAN:
Well I don't think it will be to that time and it's absolutely a matter for the new policing board, they have to find a successor for me and as soon as they do that then that's the time that I step down. But yes we have changed our title with effect from the fifth of April we'll be in our new uniforms with our new crest, a new crest that the policing board agreed upon, I think that was a tremendous achievement by them, a rather attractive crest I have to say, which embraces both communities. So there is a tremendous degree of progress being made and these difficulties we face mustn't be allowed to obscure that progress but that of course is no consolation whatever to the family of Mr McColgan who was so brutally murdered at 5.20am yesterday morning, just going to his work, seeking to provide a living for his partner and their young baby, it's with that family that our thoughts are primarily this morning.

DAVID FROST:
Indeed they are, thank you very much,
RONNIE, for joining this morning.

RONNIE FLANAGAN:
Thank you very much indeed.

DAVID FROST:
Good news that two people have been apprehended.


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