IN 2011 the Patten recommendation of 50-50 recruitment ended in a unilateral move by then Secretary of State Owen Paterson. Then, 30 per cent of the PSNI’s workforce was Catholic. Today the number of Catholics in the PSNI stands at 24 per cent and Catholic officers are whistleblowing anonymously about systemic sectarianism in the workplace.
In 2014, Relatives for Justice found advices from Assistant Chief Constables Judith Gillespie and Drew Harris to Retired Police Officers' Association members assuring its members being asked to provide evidence at inquests that the PSNI would always protect the reputation of the RUC.
Also in 2014, the Police Ombudsman took the PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott to court over the PSNI’s refusal to cooperate with his office. This action was dropped after the PSNI agreed to release the documentation requested. In 2019, the PSNI apologised to his office and to the Ormeau Road families for continuing to withhold vital information in the interim five years.
In August 2018, the homes and businesses of journalists Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney were raided and both men were arrested. These were disgusting assaults on the free press and on the legitimate pursuit of the truth surrounding the killings of citizens as a result of state collusion. In 2020, the PSNI apologised, and paid out hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation.
Within weeks of his appointment in 2014, Chief Constable George Hamilton called for the implementation of mechanisms to deal with the past, accepting that policing in the past had caused hurt and harm. In 2019 the rank and file representative organisation, the Police Federation, rejected the implementation of the Stormont House Agreement in a seeming coup against the PSNI leadership on the issue.
In 2022, the Police Ombudsman released a report on 19 killings in the North West of Ireland detailing systemic state collusion with loyalism. The PSNI did nothing about it. The Police Federation reacted with a judicial review legally challenging the report.
Sean Graham's massacre families ignored throughout PSNI debaclehttps://t.co/6Y8ASVqnPL— Andersonstown News (@ATownNews) September 7, 2023
So, I wonder how the PSNI is run by Sinn Féin and acting as a sop to nationalism? And in parallel,tell me how Simon Byrne’s position is something I would care less about.
The complete and utter cognitive dissonance since last week’s judicial review decision, with unionism treating policing as if it is something they should own and where no-one can raise legitimate concerns at any point, has been breathtaking.
Victims of state collusion are once again being treated as non-citizens and criminals, while reactionary and backward-looking forces aligned to the dead and gone Orange state are creating a pretence of crisis in order to prevent necessary change. All very convenient in the week human rights are being torn up by the Legacy Bill of Shame.
Policing, along with so much of the Good Friday Agreement infrastructure, has broken under the weight of the irreformability of unionism, its inability to acknowledge past violations and its inability to share power and influence. We do not have to fall into the trenches of lies and the convenient knee jerks of vested interests. The GFA in all of its parts requires robust protection, as do all victims. The rest is the noise of denial and cover-up.