PSNI: Incompetence, Indifference, Sectarian or Something More Sinister?

Loyalists in the village of Stoneyford, Co. Antrim, have been at their work again. This time, a young catholic family narrowly survived an attempt to burn them to death in their home, in the latest in a long line of sectarian attacks in the village.
What has once again raised eyebrows, however, is the inexplicable refusal of the PSNI to label the attack as ‘sectarian.’ Like Ahoghill last Summer, and the appalling sectarian murder of Thomas Devlin, the PSNI once again stand accused of downplaying loyalist violence.

  • galwaytribe

    Sad,
    Miss Sarajevo….

  • Cahal

    “In a statement yesterday, the PSNI said the incident was not sectarian”

    It’s one thing to not label a crime as sectarian until it has ben fully investigated. It is quite another to state that it is not sectarian before any inverstigation has begun/has been completed.

  • martin ingram

    Nobody should be subjected to that in their own home, the police should carry out a thorough investigation BEFORE commenting.

    Martin

  • Indeed, Martin.. although I’d suspect someone requested a comment from them.. and that comment, quoted in the article, is – after noting they were still investigating the incident – “No one was injured and the attack is not being treated as sectarian”

    On the other hand, according to the Daily Ireland article, Detective Butler has already completed his investigation – of the common knowledge about this attack – and will, undoubtedly, be passing that information on to the police..

  • willis

    This is a hard one!

    Surely if the object is a non-sectarian PSNI then all sectors of NI/Ulster/Separated Six Counties society need to get involved in policing.

    Re-unification is not on the horizon.

    Light a candle or curse the darkness.

  • Chris Donnelly

    “No one was injured and the attack is not being treated as sectarian.”- The PSNI press release.

    Funny that, Peteb.

    I seem to recall a different response from the PSNI when the loyalist community of the Fountain in Derry was subjected to sectarian attacks. Then, the response (quite correctly) was to label the attackers sectarian.

    Let’s examine the evidence here. There has been a long running campaign by loyalists (whose identities are commonly known in south-west Antrim) to intimidate catholics moving into the village of Stoneyford.

    The last time this family’s home was attacked was after loyalist bandsmen were thwarted in their efforts to stage a Bonfire Night parade into the cul de sacs of this mixed housing development in the village last July.

    The reaction from loyalist thugs was to attack the homes and cars of a number of catholic families in this development, including this particular family.

    Now, in those circumstances, even you must concede that ruling out a sectarian motive is not only reckless but indicative of a PSNI mindset that finds it very difficult – for reasons I’ll leave to your imagination- to turn the spotlight on the local loyalist thugs at work.

  • Chris

    I’m not ruling anything in or out.. unlike Detective Butler who has jumped to a conclusion based on common knowledge – hardly correct procedure.. unless we’re to jump to conclusions on each and every incident?

    Do you have any actual evidence about this attack? or have you just assumed it is part of a pattern? Again, that’s not prejudging the outcome, just pointing out that jumping to conclusions is not the best way to find, charge and convict those responsible.

    What I’ve pointed out is that we don’t actually have a press release, just a comment reported by the Daily Ireland, which presumably asked for that comment.. and that the investigation is ongoing.

  • harpo

    ‘that ruling out a sectarian motive is not only reckless’

    Chris Donnelly:

    Sorry if it seems like playing with words but that isn’t what the police said. They said they are not treating it as sectarian. That doesn’t mean they have ruled it out as a possibility.

    In the same way the report says this:
    “In a statement yesterday, the PSNI said the incident was not sectarian”

    The exact words from the police show that this report of what the police actually did say is inaccurate too.

    ‘and the attack is not being treated as sectarian’

    Nowhere in there are the police making the declaration that the attack was not sectarian. Are they?

    This is sloppy reporting in the report and sloppy interpretation by our posters. Everyone sees what they want to see.

    I’ll ask something from you – do you want police that think about things or police that just go with the obvious? So that if loyalists always do stuff in this area, it can only have been loyalists this time?

    How do you know what other things they know?

    ‘Loyalists in the village of Stoneyford, Co. Antrim, have been at their work again. This time, a young catholic family narrowly survived an attempt to burn them to death in their home, in the latest in a long line of sectarian attacks in the village.’

    So you know for a fact that it was loyalists. I presume that’s why you say it was sectarian. You claimed the police said something that they in fact didn’t say, but here we have your words clear as a bell. You know it was loyalists. Please provide your proof that it was definitely loyalists. You have made a definitive statement, where the police didn’t (but you assumed that they did).

    Or do you want to change your statement to something like ‘it was probably loyalists’?

  • Crataegus

    I once had a budget and it took about 6 month to teach it to say Perky Bird. How long does it take to teach the PSNI to say 2 words NO COMMENT!?

    I am fed up with police statements and assumptions. I don’t want their opinion I want those responsible arrested. If I wanted speculation and a bit of title tattle I would spend the night in a pub or consult a fortune teller.

    The PSNI should stay focussed and just get on with their job. All this centre stage publicity is distracting them from what they are being paid to do, maintain order for everyone.

  • Crataegus

    OOOps Budgie not budget

  • Chris Donnelly

    Harpo

    I most certainly will not be changing my assertion that loyalists were involved.

    No amount of smoke and mirrors can detract from the fact that the PSNI have taken a deliberate decision on a number of occasions- in Ahoghill last Summer, after the murder of Thomas Devlin, and now in Stoneyford- to not attribute blame on loyalist paramilitaries when they have engaged in sectarian attacks.

    You do not address the substantive difference between the PSNI response to this incident and that to attacks on the Fountain in Derry. Then, as in now, local people were satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the attacks were sectarian in motivation. Indeed, were the PSNI to state that they were not treating the Derry attacks as ‘sectarian’ then you would rightly hear members of the local protestant community complaining about it.

    For your part, Pete and Harpo, do you not think it would be reasonable for the PSNI to even suggest they were treating the incident as sectarian, given the case history?

  • devine

    Maybe it wasnt sectarian ,it could have been a case of mistaken identity,maybe it was the PSNI THAT ATTACKED THE HOUSE THINKING JONTY BROWN LIVED THERE.Stranger things have happened in Narnia.Seriously there is no way I would ever contemplate living in a place like Stoneyford with it`s history of sectarian attacks on very vulnerable Catholic families .The reality is that not only will the PSNI not protect them but they deny there is a problem while the houses burn. The lack of action by the police actually encourages the lowlifes that carry out these reprehensible and cowardly attacks .

  • Cahal

    Law abiding unionists deflecting blame from loyalist paramilitaries.

    What a surprise.

  • devine

    and by the way the last time there was an incident in the Fountain estate ,Derry it was caused by local Protestant residents who burned out their long time eldery Protestant neighbour because her daughters had Catholic friends ,great neighbours ,probably came from Stoneyford originally .

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    There has been campaign against Catholics living in the village for quite some time. It has centred around a well known unionist who attempted to raise his profile during the Drumcree hate fest and who has connections to the Orange Volunteer Force.

  • For your part, Pete and Harpo, do you not think it would be reasonable for the PSNI to even suggest they were treating the incident as sectarian, given the case history?

    They should investigate first, chris.. which is what they’ve said they are doing. Treating the attack in a particular category would be to prejudge that investigation.. other incidents may have leads that indicate otherwise at an earlier stage in the investigation.

    The only people jumping to conclusions in this case are Detective Butler, the Daily Ireland.. and, I have to say, yourself.

    It’s very simple really, either you allow the investigation to take place – and then, if appropriate, criticise the outcome and provide reasons for that – or you prejudge that outcome.

    I realise it’s difficult to take a measured approach to these matters but it’s better, for all concerned, not to sensationalise them too early in the reporting.

  • devine

    Probably the same guy who had the files on republicans stashed in Stoneyford Orange Hall a few years ago.check article on that.
    http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/nov1999/ire-n09.shtml

  • Yoda

    The UDA, together with the UVF to which we refer below, was closely involved in planning the co-ordination of violent protests and it made weapons available for the occasion.

    3.34 […] Apart from the feud, the organisation [the UVF/ RHC] has continued to conduct both shootings and assaults and its members have undertaken sectarian attacks across Northern Ireland over the three months.

    I don’t know about this incident, but according to the IMC, the UDA and the UVF/ RHC are still up their old tricks. The UVF has been linked to attacks in Stoneyford for the past few years.

  • Chris, I know there are plenty here who enjoy a bit of PSNI bashing, but the victim himself was on Newsline today saying that he believed it was loyalists striking at him as part of a “personal feud” or some such, and not sectarian.

    So it’s hardly just the police who aren’t treating it as sectarian. But bash them anyway sure, it’s the done thing.

  • Betty Boo

    “Treating the attack in a particular category would be to prejudge that investigation.. other incidents may have leads that indicate otherwise at an earlier stage in the investigation.”

    Pete,

    if it would have been committed by suspected former or present members of the republican movement would you have been as lenient?

    Different measures are in place. If you want a just society then don’t use the word prejudge to whip away prejudice. It’s like a straight man desireing an other man, while bashing the gay.

  • Betty

    “if it would have been committed by suspected former or present members of the republican movement would you have been as lenient?”

    I’m not sure what you getting at here… I, unlike any of the other commenters on this issue, haven’t prejudged the actual attack.

    “Different measures are in place. If you want a just society then don’t use the word prejudge to whip away prejudice. It’s like a straight man desireing an other man, while bashing the gay.”

    No. In this example, it’s like the straight man desiring another man, while saying.. you know, I’d like to know what he thinks first. 🙂

  • Dec

    but the victim himself was on Newsline today saying that he believed it was loyalists striking at him as part of a “personal feud” or some such, and not sectarian.

    Funny that Beano because I too watched the local news and the young mother interviewed said she was targetted by people who ‘didn’t like people who weren’t like them(the arsonists)’. Now thats shorthand for sectarian motive if ever I saw it.

  • elfinto

    youse are all well off the Mark.
    Harbin-gers of doom. Son of a bitch done this.
    PSNI up to their old tricks again.
    The barrel is still rotten.

  • elfinto

    Have the PSNI even admitted that the murder of Thomas Devlin was sectarian yet?

  • Betty Boo

    “I’m not sure what you getting at here… I, unlike any of the other commenters on this issue, haven’t prejudged the actual attack.”

    Pete,

    What was my question, if you, me under different circumstances would not apply any prejudice.
    The PSNI has as many skeletons in the cupboard as those under review of the IMC. Their attempt to choose more neutral language in some cases is noticed, but becomes irrelevant when the set of circumstances and suspects turns. SF is accussed of the same. What is behind an attempt with intention to burn someone alive? And do we make our judgment because of our leniency or alliance to one or the other group? Further more, what do we call the taking of a life under such influence?
    I doubt it will conceive us as “I’d like to know what he thinks first”.

  • Robert Keogh

    Apart from their inability to label anti-catholic attacks sectarian the PSNI play tricks with the statistics they release on sectarian attacks. They compare the number of serious attacks against catholics with the total number of attacks against protestants. Google the last report they released or just wait for the next one and it will leap out at you.

  • Beano

    thanks for that. This is the problem with this classification of motive. I personnally don’t think the motive being secarian or personnal makes any difference in terms of the vileness of the act. I hope that however did this is caught and that they throw the book at them. I would not be suprised if it was “loyalist” terrorists, whatever the twisted motive in this case. Considering it as sectarian, only matters if it helps facilitate the investigation and that and any ensuing conviction is the important thing. This is not me being precious of the reputation of “loyalist” terrorist groups. Their stock can’t be any lower with me.

  • RK

    Are you sure that those statistics you mention only include those attacks labeled as sectarian or could they me just statistics drawn frm searches on the religon of the victims?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Chris,

    The PSNI themselves have been under attack from loyalist thugs trying to kill them several times during the past year. Further, both the IMC and the police will tell you that at the moment, it is loyalist paramilitaries who present the greatest ongoing threat to civil stability in this country. Given their publicly stated position on this matter, I find it hard to accept that it is somehow in their interest to maintain the hegemony of loyalist paramilitaries.

    Secondly, the idea that attacks should be afforded a special category of their own because they occurred on the basis of some bigotted thug and his corrupted perception of what church his victim attends is to acquiesce in sectarianism. Describing an attack as sectarian suggests that it is justifiable to some people; also it suggests that “ordinary” attacks on people are somehow less of a concern.

    The truth is that paramilitary organizations which persist in criminality or any other illegal activity should be treated as organized criminals and be subject to the full force of the law. I am looking forward to the day when republicans will feel able to say this without being worried about being hypocritical. That is why it is only with cross-community support for the police that we can get some real work done in putting away the people behind these crimes.

  • aquifer

    Its long past time for a few sting operations against loyalist gangs targetting catholic families, but all hoods are also more likely than normal people to victimise their neighbours or acquaintances, so the PSNI must not jump to conclusions at the expense of convictions.

  • Personally i think that the PSNI is going to take a turn for the worse in the next few years, sure look at the man who wore the IRA medal, is that really a good sign

    i doubt it

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