Unionists have backed a police chief who expressed concern that support for the PSNI appeared to depend on who was being investigated.
Addressing the Police Superintendents’ Association annual conference this week, Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw dismissed suggestions made by Martin McGuinness there was “a dark side within policing” in Northern Ireland.
The Deputy First Minister made the comments following the arrest of his party leader, Gerry Adams, in relation to the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville in Belfast.
Mr McGuinness claimed there is a “cabal” in the PSNI opposed to Sinn Fein, and that the party would “reflect” on its support for the PSNI if Mr Adams was charged.
C/Supt Grimshaw said: “Worryingly, there remains a mindset on the part of some which seems to regard good policing as only that which tackles the other side, and bad policing is that which seeks to deal with ‘our side’. Our duty to the public and to the legal system is clear – it’s to follow the evidence, regardless of where that evidence leads.”
With the row over Mr McGuinness’s comments still simmering yesterday, Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said his party “supports policing where no one is placed above the law”.
“However,” he added, “that clearly is not the case when the PSNI is dealing with issues connected to the past.
“In the last fortnight alone we have learned that there will be no action taken against the MRF (Military Reaction Force) killers of nationalist civilians in Belfast, no inquiry into the actions of the soldiers who killed the Ballymurphy 11.”
Responding to Mr Kelly’s comments, TUV leader Jim Allister said they were a reminder that “Sinn Fein/IRA’s support for the rule of law is highly conditional”.
Mr Allister added: “Millions of pounds have been spent on investigating Bloody Sunday, Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane. Yet not one penny has been spent on any inquiry into the Enniskillen bombing, Bloody Friday, La Mon...but Kelly complains about double standards.”
UUP MLA Tom Elliott said: “For years many people in the community, from all sectors, supported the police.
“More recently, some people have weighed in to give them what appears to be qualified support when they want and that shouldn’t be.”
DUP Policing Board member Jonathan Craig said Mr McGuinness’s comments were a potential breach of the ministerial code and added: “It’s up to him to clarify his unambiguous support for the police and law and order.”