Despite the murder of prison officer Adrian Ismay in the city just weeks ago, some loyalists circulated a picture across the internet of a policeman they claimed was involved in Tuesday’s controversial Junior Orange CS incident in Belfast.
The image was accompanied by a wave of abuse and menacing remarks, and the PSNI told the News Letter that they are investigating a number of online comments.
See police statement here about the incident.
Among the people who had shared the image and accompanying text (consisting of an illiterate string of accusations against the officer) was a Ballymena DUP councillor.
John Carson – who could not be reached directly by the News Letter – had posted it on his own account a couple of hours after referring to the PSNI as “bootboys”.
The DUP said it was “absolutely vital” that the facts surrounding the incident be established, adding that any witnesses should contact the Police Ombudsman.
The party added: “We do not support such posts being posted or shared and the councillor has removed it.”
Noel Liggett, county secretary of the Junior Orage, said: “I think that’s very unfortunate. I don’t think they should be putting individual information about a police officer on the internet.”
The chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, Mark Lindsay, issued a statement which said: “The comments posted on social media are scurrilous and despicable.
“There is an investigation underway [into the Ormeau Road incident] by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and that is where this should be left.
“This type of trial by social media, where Officers are readily identified in a photograph and their personal details bandied freely on social networks, is reprehensible.
“All right thinking people must condemn this anarchy by people who are baying not for facts, but for blood.”
He also called on politicians who were not themselves witness to the events of the evening to “desist from making inflammatory comments”.
He demanded politicians “stop using police officers as a political football in the run up to the Assembly election”.