However it was in 1993 when talks between John Hume of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP) and Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein (SF), the party associated with the Provisional IRA, led to a series of joint statements regarding violence and how it might be brought to an end.
The Policing Board of Northern Ireland is an independent public body made up of 19 Political and Independent Members which were established to "secure for all the people of Northern Ireland an effective, efficient and impartial police service which has the confidence of the whole community." (Northern Ireland Policing Board, 2006).
When discussing the history of Northern Ireland, the 'peace process' is considered to be the covering of all events up to the 1994 IRA ceasefire. It was on August 31, 1994, when the IRA announced a 'cessation of military operations' from midnight. This was considered to imply a permanent ceasefire. Although some were positive towards this idea, more were skeptical. Ulster Unionist Party leader James Molyneaux declared, "This (the ceasefire) is the worst thing that has ever happened to us."
Northern Ireland possesses over three times the police (man) power per capita of Great Britain. "The 8 500-strong RUC is backed by some 3 000 full-time and 2 000 part-time reservists. This police-to-population ratio of 1:106 compares with 1:350 in Britain, and 1:512 in Sweden." (Brogden, 2006). Whatever happens in the so-called 'peace process', it is a known fact that the Police Service of Northern Ireland must retain a major security as well as 'crime-fighting' capacity.
Unlike the police in most countries, the police in Northern Ireland are only routinely armed, which is the point of primary discussion in this situation. After questions regarding the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland, points have been brought to attention regarding whether or not the police service there should remain an armed force. Some believe that is it absolutely necessary for the police service to remain armed. "I see more prevention coming from an armed populace and an armed police force. Complaints about armed officers being unstable mean only that the selection process and pay are flawed, not that the carrying of weapons is incorrect." ("News", 2005). Conversely to this, some believe that the continuation of the arming of the police system is not only unnecessary, but will also even perhaps have a strikingly negative effect. "The murder of a police officer cannot necessarily be prevented by the issue of arms to police." "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but vast majority of police officersdo not want to carry arms. Sacking them for refusing to carry guns is unreasonable and unworkable." ("News", 2005).
One strong objective thought is that without arms, police officers will be more likely to get hurt in the line of duty, as they will have no way to protect themselves. Considering the high number of criminals who do themselves carry weapons, those with this particular opinion believe that the only way to fight back is to use fire against fire. If only to protect themselves and nothing more, at least the officers would have some form of security.
Those who oppose point out that proper knowledge, and not any form of weapon, is what will protect