Matt Baggott: “Under the Patten architecture, to which all political parties have signed up…”

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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…

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  • Morpheus

    The public interest card is a perfectly valid card to play if there is no evidence to back up the case for the prosecution. The alternative is a costly legal proceeding where the State ie. the taxpayers cover the costs and gets its ass sued.

    And to be clear that’s not ‘Na na nana na, you can’t catch Gerry’ that’s just a simple acknowledgement that if there is no evidence there will be no conviction.

  • Pete Baker

    Morph

    Those are two separate scenarios.

    Go and read the linked article.

    Here’s the subbed précis

    If evidence is sufficient, it would be entirely proper for deputy DPP to take into account impact of charges on peace process

  • Pete Baker

    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.

  • Pete Baker

    Assuming he has any actual information, that is…

  • Mc Slaggart
  • Gopher

    I think SF is having a major credibility gap, Conor Murphy’s comments were so detached from the reality that they were absurd. SF withdraw support for Policing two things can happen 1/ The assembly falls 2/ All the parties exclude SF until they resume support for policing. The cross community support aspect means the SDLP would have made the final decision whether it was 1/ or 2/. No support for the Police no assembly you can put a sash and bowler hat on it Conor, mount it on a white charger have it cross the Boyne but the bottom line remains the same. I dont think people have grasped that the assembly was dead man walking after Martys comments and only saved by Gerry’s extreme back-pedalling.

    Personally now I believe it has been damaged beyond purpose but thats just a personal opinion.

  • Mc Slaggart

    “We need everybody to accept that the justice system needs to operate independent of politics, without that kind of influence – fairly and impartially, which is I believe what we see day and daily in every part of Northern Ireland.

    David Ford

  • Mc Slaggart

    The issue of ““an embittered rump of the old RUC” is reflected by what they legal system does not address.

    These bonfires are full of illegal material and one can only guess why the PSNI cannot address the issue.

    This is not an operational matter as the police do have the powers to take action. It makes a joke of the Northern Ireland justice system.

  • Reader

    Mc Slaggart: These bonfires are full of illegal material and one can only guess why the PSNI cannot address the issue.
    Maybe the Dark Side likes the smell of burning rubber. The question is, why are Martin McGuinness’es “senior”, “reforming” police officers not doing anything about it?

  • Politico68

    Supporting police has to be central to the normal workings of any society. Marty was speaking out of anger. Suggesting that ‘support for the police would have to be considered’ is a far cry from saying we are withdrawing support from the police. Moreover, there is no pull of support, the police are intact and the assembly is standing. So, lets not try and manufacture a crises where there clearly is none.

    Both Robbo and Marty have taken a swipe at the police, in both cases they were lashing out at a time of duress and while we might say that they as leaders should know better we have to remember that they are both dealing with a polity and police that are still finding their way.

    It is quite possible that there might be an anti Republican rump in the PSNI, it is equally possible there might exist an anti Unionist rump, to suggest that some members of the police are not capable of being less than professional is just silly.

    In terms of making an official complaint, I would hope that both Marty and Robbo don’t bother, at least for now. The police over time will hopefully deal with, and weed out those that are pushing a biased political agenda in either direction. A complaint will simply cause more unrest with claims and counter-claims, accusations and counter-accusations, which will only serve to be destabilising for society while handing feast to Media Vultures.

    The PSNI messed up in the way they handled the Adams saga. Not because they called him in and questioned him but for the timing of the request for him to come in. It was ill-judged given the circumstances. I personally feel there was outside pressure exerted on them and facilitated by one or two old guard looking for Adams blood. Other have a different view and that is fine.

    Nobody has pulled support from the police and the assembly is standing. So, lets not try and manufacture a crises where there clearly is none. Move on now, nothing else to see.

  • Gopher

    Marty’s “suggestion” was a threat, was seen as intended to be so and I think everyone is aware given the practicalities of Northern Ireland what it meant for the PSNI and wider public. The assembly became unsustainable in its present form at that point. Hence the frantic and uncharacteristic back-pedalling by Gerry.

    The “timing” argument is interesting and needs put to bed, when the flag vote occurred and we were subjected to weeks of rioting over the Christmas period business owners in Belfast suggested that the lead up to Christmas in trying economic times, it was not the most opportune moment to have the vote. They were told by SF in no uncertain terms that democracy had to operate and could not be postponed until after the Christmas period. I see SF have changed their mind about “timing” when it directly effects them.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Politico68

    “Supporting police has to be central to the normal workings of any society.”

    For that to occur “Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done.” 1

    Reader says “Maybe the Dark Side likes the smell of burning rubber.” The Dark side may like more the profit they make. I know most people who pay to get their tyres safely disposed are fed up with them being burned on bonfires.

    Sorry but for a long time sf have been spouting about it all taking time. The sdlp and sf are not representing the underlying anger among nationalists at the inability of the law to deal with basic criminal activities.

    1Gordon Hewart, 1st Viscount Hewart

  • Son of Strongbow

    Perhaps the “embittered rump of the RUC” :) sets the PSNI agenda when it comes to waste management crime.

    Or perhaps the police rightly expect the NI Environmental Agency’s Environmental Crime Unit to investigate such matters?

    I’m sure the cops would respond to requests from landowners, in many cases the Housing Executive, and the NIEA should they ask for police assistance to prevent a breach of the peace should they wish to remove fly-tipped tyres or other illegally dumped material.

    I’m also confident that the PSNI would support the NIEA ECU should they want to investigate and then take action against people who burn fly-tipped tyres.

    But who knows? Perhaps there’s a “Dark Side” within the NIEA? Tyre burning, and the equally if not more environmentally damaging crime of dumping sludge from illegal fuel laundering plants, does seem to get a bit of a by-ball.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Son of Strongbow

    “waste management crime”

    Would you give away new Pallets to be burned on a bonfire?

  • Son of Strongbow

    Given up on the tyres, so now its pallets?

    Ok then; would I give away a new pallet? No.

    If a pallet, new or old, is tossed over a hedge it technically is dumped waste (waste in this context is not dependant on the value, condition or intrinsic worth of the material).

    But cutting to the chase, and I suspect the point you’re labouring towards, if pallets are stolen to toss on bonfires, as I’m sure they are, the police will be required to identify the lawful owner and have the owners make a statement of complaint to begin the process of proving a theft has occurred.

    The legal definition of ‘theft’ is: a person commits theft if they dishonestly appropriate property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of that property.

    Therefore a statement of complaint must show, inter alia, the lawful owner of the property in question and the fact that they did not give permission, actual or implied, for another to take it.

    Without an owner’s statement the police might ‘know’ a pallet is stolen but be unable to take lawful action to prove it.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Son of Strongbow

    “the police will be required to identify the lawful owner ”

    True, that does not stop the police arresting the people who have pallets without any proof of purchase.

  • Son of Strongbow

    Right on. The Barbed Wire Act can always be invoked.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Son of Strongbow

    Handling stolen goods is a crime.

    I do not know of the Barbed wire act but its not needed in this case.

  • Pete Baker

    Focus, gentlemen…

  • Mc Slaggart

    Peter

    This is the question at centre of the lack of trust of the PSNI:

    “questioning the motivation or impartiality of police officer”

    What is the motivation that the law allow such a public expression of stealing and danger to the general public?

  • Mc Slaggart

    “He said it would have been wrong to treat the Sinn Féin leader any differently to other citizens.”

    MB

    How many people do you know could burn so many tyres in city in the UK?

  • Son of Strongbow

    Ok my last on this.

    Yes handling STOLEN goods is a crime. However one of the facts to prove is that the goods were STOLEN, that is that a THEFT has occurred in the first place!

    You suggest that the police arrest people for handling stolen goods without a report of property being stolen in the first instance?

    Can you not see the difficulties that would raise with regards to Human Rights? How do you suppose the police could demonstrate they acted reasonably and proportionately?

    Do you think the ‘dogs in the street’ defence would work for them legally?

    So the police proceed. The pallets are not just plain but have an owner’s name on them. Whilst the arrested wait in the cells, continuing to deny they stole the pallets (they ‘found’ them, or they were ‘given’ them, or they employ the defence to theft that they believed the owners would have given them if they knew the circumstances) and the police go to the owners and ask them for a statement of complaint.

    They refuse, they think about the sh@t that might roll their business’s way if they complain.

    The police release the arrests, and possibly await a civil action for wrongful arrest.

    But hey at least you’re happy the ‘Light Side’ has prevailed!

  • Mc Slaggart

    Son of Strongbow

    During the run up to the “big event” in Fermanagh the police was going to put in prison anyone they suspect of possible starting trouble. They put lots of cells in Omagh which are sitting empty.

    If someone is moving stuff which in all probability is stolen the police can and do take you to a police station to investigate the matter.

    I have even heard protestant farmers on about “hot pursuit” for people who they think have stolen equipment from farms.

  • Politico68

    Gopher, ur whatabutery fails to note that the flag decision was a democratic decision taken unknowing of the violent Unionist backlash.the peoples elected representatives morally acting upon mandate. GA arrest was politically motivated abuse of an innocent man.

  • Reader

    Politico68 : GA arrest was politically motivated abuse of an innocent man.
    That’s a cracker. It belongs on the Messiah thread, of course.

  • Politico68

    Reader,

    Well I am glad you at least agree with me regarding the flag decision etc. Nice to see you are progressing on some level. Keep it up man.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    Most Chief Constables seem to get knighthoods. Why not Baggot? Whose toes did he maybe step on?

  • Reader

    Politico68: Well I am glad you at least agree with me regarding the flag decision etc. Nice to see you are progressing on some level.
    I supported designated days before the word ‘flegger’ was invented.

  • Politico68