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How COVID has reopened sectarian tensions over policing in Northern Ireland

By Kevin Hearty, Research Fellow, School of Law, Queen's University Belfast
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The problem of enforcing coronavirus restrictions without coming into conflict with significant parts of the population has afflicted many police forces during the pandemic. Reports, unimaginable a year ago, of weddings, christenings and other social gatherings being broken up have naturally led to concerns about police overreach.

In Northern Ireland, however, this problem comes with historic baggage. During the years of conflict, the police force (the Royal Ulster Constabulary) was associated with the British state. It enjoyed a close relationship with the largely Protestant unionist…

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