PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott has rejected Sinn Fein’s claims of “political policing” in the arrest and questioning of party president Gerry Adams. And in doing so he highlights an inconvenient truth for the Northern Ireland deputy First Minister. From the BBC report
In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Baggott said the accusation of a “dark side” within the PSNI was one he refuted.
“Under the Patten architecture, to which all political parties have signed up, there are numerous ways in which policing concerns can be addressed, notably through the independent Police Ombudsman, Policing Board or Human Rights Commissioner,” he said.
“As such, questioning the motivation or impartiality of police officers tasked with investigating serious crime in this very public, generalised and vague manner, is both unfair and inappropriate.” [added emphasis]
The chief constable said the arrest and questioning of Gerry Adams was “legitimate and lawful”, and that an independent judge subsequently decided that there were grounds for further detention.
He said it would have been wrong to treat the Sinn Féin leader any differently to other citizens.
“In a democracy the police are tasked with following the evidence without fear or favour and in accordance with the law. The PSNI are committed to doing so regardless of any undue pressures,” he added.
As Brian Rowan notes in the Belfast Telegraph, there are three particularly interested observers watching events unfold…
The top job within the PSNI is still considered one of the most prestigious in the UK. But, as we all watched last week, we saw how policing here can still be poisoned by the past.
Watching closest will have been three senior officers from police headquarters in Belfast, London and Dublin. And they will have seen and heard the political tug-of-war that became the headline in the Adams arrest story.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton, Met Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick and Garda Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne (all below) are shortlisted for interview.
That’s when the Policing Board will choose the officer who will follow the retiring Matt Baggott as Chief Constable of the PSNI.
As he goes on to add
Indeed, just 24 hours after the board had completed its shortlist, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness spoke to a republican rally in west Belfast.
There he claimed “an embittered rump of the old RUC” remained within the PSNI. “These people want to settle old scores, whatever the political cost,” McGuinness said.
The republican mood was becoming darker. McGuinness spoke with Bobby Storey alongside him. The senior Belfast republican’s name was often linked with the IRA.
But Storey, along with others, is also identified as a key figure in the transition towards new politics and policing. And, as unionists and others listened and watched, so the tug-of-war and words intensified.
If it was ‘political’ to arrest Adams, then it was also ‘political’ for republicans to try to force his release before the police had completed their interviews.
Indeed. And whilst Gerry Adams waits to hear from the PPS, or whether the public interest card is deployed, Anthony McIntyre has responded to Sinn Fein’s criticism of himself, Ed Moloney, and the Belfast Project. From Anthony McIntyre’s blog
The one point of agreement between myself and Mr Adams is that the British state is not in the slightest interested in dealing honestly with the past.
Unfortunately, neither is Mr Adams.
The Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has also denied warning Michael McConville of a “backlash” if he revealed the names of those he believes to be responsible for the abduction and murder of his mother Jean McConville in 1972 - a warning that Michael McConville has stated he took “as a threat.”
Adds From an Irish Times report
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has told Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness that he should complain to the Ombudsman’s office about his allegation of a cabal in the PSNI.
Mr Kenny said he spoke to Mr McGuinness and told him he should lodge a formal complaint “based on the information given to him about a cabal operating on the dark side in the PSNI”.
Indeed. Assuming he has any actual information, that is…