What has happened to the NYPD? There was a time when no one associated with New York's police department would have had the temerity to sing the praises of anyone associated with Britain's rule in 19th century Ireland, but those days have obviously passed.
Yet, Police Commissioner William Bratton professes his admiration for Robert Peel and not a peep from the Irish in New York, or at least none that has come to my attention.
“In my long police career I have often drawn inspiration from a great hero of mine, Sir Robert Peel. Peel founded the London Metropolitan Police in 1829. He went on to serve as British Prime Minister for two separate terms and earned a reputation as a powerful and effective reformer.”
When I read those words my breath was taken away. I couldn't believe that the rank and file of the police department had grown so 'un-Irish' or the Emerald Society so toothless that the Commissioner could get away with expressing such sentiments. The Irish cops of a century ago would have been spitting blood.
I mean — Robert Peel?!!
Peel was not a policeman, but a politician and one who spent much of his time working to keep Ireland's Catholics down and Ireland under the thumb of British rule.
I know Bratton was mostly speaking of Peel's role in setting up London's police force back in the 1820s, but still! He also refers to Peel as a “powerful and effective reformer” as Prime Minister. Some reformer!
This is the same Robert Peel who, early in his career, was elected MP for Tipperary because, well, his father bought him the seat in parliament.
This is the same Peel who once challenged Daniel O'Connell, hero to the Irish Catholic masses, to a duel.
This is the same Peel whom O'Connell called “Orange Peel” due to the fact he was “the most bitter persevering and unmitigated” enemy of Catholics.
This is the same Peel who opposed Catholic emancipation, who wanted to maintain the privileged position of the established Protestant (Anglican) Church of Ireland and continue to deny Catholics the right to vote or to hold elective office.
This is the same Peel who led a government that waged a low intensity war in Ireland in the 1830s to ensure that poor Catholics paid tithes to the Church of Ireland.
This is the same Peel who was Prime Minister – head of the UK's government – when the Great Famine began.
This is the same Peel who decided that a good response to the outbreak of famine in Ireland was to introduce a Coercion Bill intended to suspend the normal operation of justice so that any “unrest” could be suppressed.
This is Peel the “reformer,” although when it came to Ireland he resisted reform mightily. This is the man William Bratton, head honcho at the NYPD, calls a “hero.”
I bet many of those long dead Irish cops are rolling in their graves.