South Armagh policing: PSNI Chief Constable gives fresh assurances on RUC memorials, joint Garda patrols and Irish language

Chief Constable Simon Byrne has issued a list of assurances on policing in South Armagh after meeting with DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 9:44 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 9:51 pm
PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne attending the Policing Board . Picture by PressEye

Publication of a report with recommendations on policing in south Armagh this week have caused huge political fallout for Mr Byrne, particularly with regards to plans to remove memorials to murdered RUC officers from public view in stations and to begin joint patrols with the Garda.

Mr Byrne said tonight that he had held “frank and constructive meetings” with the Northern Ireland Policing Board and a range of political representatives today.

“At a subsequent meeting this afternoon, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and a number of DUP representatives told me of deeply held community confidence concerns and their disillusionment arising from a series of policing issues in recent times,” Mr Byrne said in a statement.

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“I accept the importance of ensuring that there is widespread confidence in policing across all parts of our community. I reaffirmed my commitment to listening to unionist community concerns and rebuilding confidence.”

He added that he has made it clear to the Northern Ireland Policing Board, in media interviews and in the meetings I have held today that:

:: “No memorials will be removed from, or moved within, our buildings”

:: “At no time was it envisaged that there would be joint patrolling by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and An Garda Síochána.”

He added that the issue of “hot pursuit” by police across the border after criminals will not be taken forward without the agreement of both governments.

“This recommendation will not, therefore, be progressed by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.”

He also said that “no action” will be taken with regard to increasing the use of the Irish language in the PSNI “unless it is in line with the approach being taken across the Northern Ireland public sector more widely”.

He added that further clarity will be provided in a time-scaled implementation plan to the Policing Board in the coming weeks.

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