The two-tier structure of policing is laid bare in a lengthy judgment which sets out how republicans threatened they would make the incident with two young police officers “their Drumcree” and Sinn Fein would withdraw support for policing if- as they demanded- the Chief Constable did not suspend two of his own officers.
Instead of exercising operational independence, the Chief Constable- and those around him- complied with the Sinn Fein demands, substituting the public interest for the interests of the republican movement.
In addition, it is revealed that the Chair and Chief Executive of the Policing Board, acting far beyond their remit, are taking part in decision-making and discussions in relation to disciplinary actions against Police Officers. This is inexplicable, and even more so when those office holders- engaging under the auspices of their policing board roles- made recommendations which plainly did not have the support of unionist members of the Board.
The extent of republican influence over policing decisions comes as no surprise to many in the unionist/loyalist community who for well over a decade have raised concerns about two-tier policing in which it is one rule for loyalists and unionists, and another for Sinn Fein.
There are multiple clear examples of this including the immunity granted to the IRA over the Storey funeral, meanwhile peaceful loyalist protestors continue to be hounded; the one-sided handling of legacy; and the admission of the PSNI that their Paramilitary Crime Task Force do not investigate criminality linked to the IRA (they actually confirmed this in writing).
This should also come as no surprise; former ACC Alan McQuillan previously outlined how when he was head of the Assets Recovery Agency he received many referrals to pursue loyalists, but he was blocked from going after the IRA.
And, of course, who forget the IRA ‘On The Run’ amnesty scheme under which hundreds of terrorists were de-facto granted immunity, whilst- shamelessly- the PSNI, urged on by Sinn Fein inclusive of many terror beneficiaries of the OTR scheme and/or Royal Pardons, continued a witch hunt against brave veterans and loyalists in relation to legacy.
Those who consistently made the point that in NI the PSNI was essentially a nationalist police force were mocked and derided, however today’s High Court judgment vindicates that view. The extent of republican infiltration into PSNI decision making is breathtaking and how can anyone from the unionist/loyalist community have any trust in any decision made by the PSNI?
Indeed, how many decisions have been made at the behest of Sinn Fein? For example, the court judgment records Sinn Fein issuing demands for the PSNI to take action in relation to a peaceful protest gathering in Pitt Park- was the decision to arrest twenty-two people in an extraordinarily disproportionate PSNI operation, latter critised by the Policing Board’s Human Rights advisor and the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, influenced by Sinn Fein pressure?
As bandsmen and peaceful loyalists continued to be hounded by the PSNI over anti-protocol protests, today’s judgment will come as a sobering reminder of just how fatally compromised the PSNI is.
Those who have highlighted the inherent bias in the PSNI have been vindicated. It is time for the Chief Constable to go, and the PSNI in its present form to go with him.