Alderman John Finlay: My letter to the chief constable about PSNI Pride participation

Uniformed police officers in the Belfast Pride parade on Saturday August 4 2018.  'Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Uniformed police officers in the Belfast Pride parade on Saturday August 4 2018. 'Picture By: Arthur Allison.

Copy of letter to George Hamilton, chief constable of the PSNI, from Alderman John Finlay

I wrote to you last year to express my deep concern about uniformed PSNI officers taking part for the first time in the Gay Pride parade in Belfast.

I know I was not alone in my concern, for many people felt it entirely inappropriate for PSNI to formally identify itself with any specific agenda.

The rationale for such involvement as set out by the PSNI last year was that the LGBT community suffers a disproportionate number of hate crime attacks and also to reflect the diversity of the police’s workforce. However, neither of those criteria justify PSNI involvement.

As I said in a recent statement, the job of any police service is to act with impartiality towards all members of society. It is not the role of the PSNI to be openly promoting and supporting any particular cause.

However, this year once again uniformed PSNI officers took part in the Belfast Pride parade on Saturday past. Despite all the adulation from the public and private sectors for ‘Pride’, this is not a non-contentious event. To many of us it is provocative and offensive.

Apart from my deep-seated concerns about PSNI involvement, I write to specifically raise the issue of an extremely provocative and hate-filled poster carried by a person in Saturday’s parade which said ‘F*** the DUP’ and featured several photos of Mr Jim Wells MLA.

Attempts were made by security to remove the poster but these appear to have been unsuccessful, and the poster carrier was loudly cheered as she held aloft her damaged poster. I attach two photos.

I would be grateful if you could advise me what, if any, action PSNI is taking, or intends to take, in relation to this poster and the person carrying it.

Bearing in mind the wording on the poster and the clear linkage with Jim Wells, do you regard it as a hate-crime?

Could you explain how I and many others can have any confidence in any police investigation into the incident bearing in mind that uniformed PSNI officers were participating in the parade in which this poster was being carried?

I look forward to your reply to the specific points raised above.

Please do not respond on the basis of a bland and generic response in the name of any member of your staff.

Yours sincerely,

Alderman John Finlay, Democratic Unionist Party