Allister questions use of more outside police officers for next big event

TUV leader Jim Allister
TUV leader Jim Allister

The involvement of around 30 extra police from other parts of the UK for the World Police and Fire Games here makes a mockery of the decision to abolish the Full-Time Reserves, an MLA has claimed.

Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay announced on Tuesday that 30 dog handlers from other UK police forces will be flown in to help with security at the event next month.

Police said the extra police are necessary to deal with the threat posed by dissident republicans.

But TUV leader Jim Allister said the news that extra police are to be used again, so soon after the Twelfth riots and the G8 Summit shows the PSNI does not have sufficient resources for such large-scale events.

“While I am supportive of utilising experienced police officers from other UK forces, the PSNI reliance during the G8, 12th July Parades and now the World Police and Fire Games raises serious questions about PSNI operational capability,” said Mr Allister.

The anti-Agreement Unionist hit out at the DUP for, as he said, not maintaining their pledge to ensure the Full Time Reserve police force was kept in place.

“The reduced capability of the PSNI can be traced back to the disastrous implementation of the Patten Report and the abolition of the Full Time Reserve. Jeffrey Donaldson once claimed the retention of the Full Time Reserve was a pre-condition for the devolution of Policing and Justice ‘because not only will the DUP not agree to it but the public confidence will not be there to make it happen. That is absolutely clear’.

“In his words it categorically was a ‘deal-breaker’. But like so many other ‘deal-breakers’ the pledge to retain the FTR was quickly abandoned by the DUP as they fell over themselves to accommodate the demands of Sinn Fein.

“The reality is this – Northern Ireland is still at severe risk of terrorist attack and the Full Time Reserve was essential in supplementing the PSNI ranks at times when they were under strain.

“TUV was consistent in its support for the retention of the Full Time Reserve, it is a great shame that another Unionist party’s support disappeared when it became politically expedient to do so.”