Far from being too harsh, anti-terror work is hamstrung

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The Fianna Fail TD Eamon O’Cuiv’s suggestion that the PSNI are guilty of harassment as they work to combat dissident terror is reprehensible.

In a BBC Radio Ulster interview yesterday Mr O’Cuiv referred to “serious allegations about police harassment and constant stopping on the street”.

While it is important and welcome that Mr O’Cuiv made clear that he opposes dissident violence, he is naive if he does not think that such comments bolster the dissident position.

Mr O’Cuiv recently joined Sinn Fein-IRA veteran Martin Ferris on a trip to Lithuania to check that Michael Campbell was getting a fair trial in his successful appeal against conviction on arms smuggling charges.

Mr Campbell claimed that he was framed because his brother is Liam Campbell, who was found liable for the 1998 Omagh massacre in a civil action.

Mr O’Cuiv has campaigned for the release of the republican attempted murderer Gerry McGeough, and has joined the SDLP and others in calling for the release of bomber Marian Price, who last week admitted terror charges.

These are among the injustices that bother Mr O’Cuiv.

Now he thinks that certain people are getting a hard time from the police.

The opposite is the case: hamstrung police officers walk a ‘human rights’ tightrope that makes it hard to prevent or find dangerous offenders.

When they do, the courts often do not convict. And even if convictions do follow, time served is usually short.

And if it wasn’t, some nationalist politicians would soon be clamouring for their release, and for ‘talks’ with their cohorts.

After Sunday’s attempt to bomb Belfast by proxy it should be plain to everyone that the police need to be robust in their investigations into those who harbour or assist such terrorists.

It is to be hoped that Mr O’Cuiv’s concerns will be ignored.