‘Two-tier policing’ concerns raised with chief constable by DUP

Unionist and loyalist “disillusionment” with the PSNI, a perception of “two-tier policing” and the fallout from the Bobby Storey funeral have all been raised with the chief constable by Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

By Mark Rainey
Thursday, 8th July 2021, 3:59 pm
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and a DUP delegation meeting Chief Constable Simon Byrne
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and a DUP delegation meeting Chief Constable Simon Byrne

The new DUP leader led a party delegation to meet PSNI boss Simon Byrne – with the proposal to close Crossmaglen police station also discussed as a point of “deep concern”.

Following the meeting at Stormont yesterday, Sir Jeffrey described police strategy at the funeral of former IRA leader Bobby Storey as having “profound implications for public confidence in policing”.

He said he appreciates the “considerable challenges facing policing” across Northern Ireland, and stressed the need for “a calm and common-sense policing approach” as communities and families gather to celebrate their cultural traditions.

“The mistakes of the past must not be repeated,” Sir Jeffrey said.

“There can be no denying that the PSNI’s handling of the Bobby Storey funeral has had profound implications for public confidence. There is a growing belief that the rule of law is not being applied equally or fairly.

“Within unionist and loyalist communities’ concerns about two-tier policing are not only legitimate but widespread. I made it clear to Simon Byrne that the PSNI must meaningfully re-engage those who have become disillusioned over recent months.”

The DUP delegation also included policing board members Joanne Bunting and Trevor Clarke, and Newry & Armagh MLA William Irwin.

Sir Jeffrey said Mr Byrne will ultimately be judged by whatever “tangible differences in the tone and style of policing” become apparent.

“An effective and impartial police service is a key pillar of any democratic society and that means it should, as far as is practicable, be reflective of the community it serves,” he said.

“A great deal of attention has been given to the religious breakdown of officers but in recent times there has been a significant under-representation of working-class Protestants within the PSNI workforce.

“The PSNI should not be a cold house for young people in any community. More accessible routes to a career in policing must be provided for those from working-class Protestant areas as a priority.”

The DUP leader added: “Finally, I expressed deep concern in relation of the South Armagh Policing Review, which was instigated by the PSNI at the behest of nationalists, and now threatens the closure of at least one station serving the area.

“This type of knee-jerk reaction is no way to make strategic and far-reaching decisions and DUP policing board representatives will continue to press for a more balanced outcome going forward.”

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