Northern Ireland Protocol: PSNI ‘tried to recruit activist’ as informer on protest parades

A community activist from mid-Armagh area claims that the PSNI have tried to recruit him as an informer about anti-NI Protocol Protests.

Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 6:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th September 2021, 8:53 am

The man, ‘Ian’, said he has been involved in protests against the NI Protocol, but has not broken the law.

He says the incident took place on July 27 as he pulled into his usual parking spot at his workplace in the Mid-Armagh area.

“I opened the car door and was stepping out of the car and there were two masked people standing behind my car blocking my way. I said to myself: ‘What the heck is this’?” He said the man and woman were dressed casually, wore covid masks through the exchange and at no point volunteered their names.

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Policing Board member Trevor Clarke is taking the matter up with senior officers.

“They said: ‘Hello, we were wondering could we have a wee chat?’ I replied: A chat about what? Who are you?”

Ian said they wanted to talk about “the state of play on the ground about the Northern Ireland Protocol?” But he replied: “Hold on a minute - who are you?”

At that point they revealed they were detectives from Newry. When asked for identification, he claimed that both showed him identification cards, but covered their names with their fingers.

“I said: ‘What are you doing coming to my place of work? I am not happy with this,” to which he said they replied: “We are sorry about that. We didn’t want to go to your house”.

Ian challenged them as to why he had been singled out, as he has no criminal record and is not involved in any illegal organisations. They affirmed this was true but repeated that they just wanted “a chat”. He declined, and they left him a mobile number. He understands similar approahes have been made in Belfast.

Policing Board member and DUP MLA Trevor Clarke said he would be taking the matter up with senior officers.

“It is seriously concerning that the officers involved here could not be more open and transparent,” he said. “If they want information fair enough, but they should not do so in such a covert way. Police regularly liaise with elected representatives and community activists across both sides of the community all the time but they don’t try to hide their identities. I am not sure why you would need informers for Protocol Protests either - it is not like they are INLA funerals where shots are fired over the coffin.”

Loyalist activist Jamie Bryson said he was working with three individuals who had similar approaches, two others in Belfast.

“Complaints have been lodged on their behalf with the Police Ombudsman on a range of grounds,” he said. “Some of these approaches included the offer of financial inducements.

“This is highly improper on the part of the PSNI who rather than working to restore confidence within PUL communities are instead harassing and menacing community activists seeking to pressurise them into informing on their own community. The Protocol is a political rather than a policing issue and the PSNI should keep their nose out.”

The PSNI said complaints could be directed to the Police Ombudsman.

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