Catholic police officers in Northern Ireland

Voices out of silence

By Mary Gethins

Catholic police officers in Northern Ireland


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8743-1
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £17.99
  • Published Date: February 2013
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Comparative politics, Northern Ireland, HISTORY / General, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Comparative Politics, Comparative politics, History, Irish Studies, Religion


This exciting book, newly available in paperback, aims to establish the historical and cultural reasons why there was only a participation rate of 7-8% by the Catholic population in policing Northern Ireland when the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) came into being in 2001, even though Catholics constituted 46% of the total population. It also aims to ascertain whether or not implementation of the Patten Commission's recommendation to recruit to the PSNI on a 50: 50 basis between Catholics and non-Catholics has resulted in greater representation and what the political and cultural obstacles might be in transforming policing from meeting colonial model criteria to those of the liberal model advocated by Patten. In doing this, author Mary Gethins uses a wealth of historical data to show that there has for a long time been a problematic relationship between the native Irish Catholic population and the police, and the reasons for Catholic under-representation in the police force can be largely put down to this legacy. A survey of Catholic police officers focusing on family history, reasons for joining the police and sacrifices perceived to have been made in joining a largely Protestant organisation provide a strong empirical evidence base from which Gethins draws illuminating lessons. The work is informed by sociological theory to show that Catholic police officers are atypical of the Catholic population at large in Northern Ireland, and best explained by the concept of fragmented identity.


Introduction 1. Historical overview 2. Digging for treasure 3. Speaking from experience: retired officers 4. Veterans but still serving officers 5. More of the same? PSNI trainees 6. The verdict on Patten 7. Looking back and looking forward Bibliography Appendices 1.Questionnaire and quantitative analysis: tables 2.Interview guide 3.Confidentiality agreement and the terms and conditions of access to the RUC for research purposes


Mary Gethins is a former Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Education, Queen's University, Belfast

Catholic police officers in Northern Ireland

By Mary Gethins

Paperback £17.99 / $26.95

Hardcover £85.00 / $130.00

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