It has all the hallmarks of a witch-hunt

The Police Ombudsman’s office has been heavily criticised by a resident magistrate as he cleared a PSNI officer of assault following incidents involving GAA fans during a Royal Black Perceptory church parade in Enniskillen. Under cross-examination it was admitted that the Ombudsman’s office only interviewed witnesses involved in the incident that corroborated the allegations but did not interview independent witnesses whose accounts contradicted it. The Resident Magistrate stated:

Had it been fairly and properly investigated this case would have never got off the ground

Newton Emerson believes the case should raise questions about the Public Prosecution Service who dropped the original charges by the officer of disorderly conduct and charged him instead. He highlights a concern that the politics of the peace process is effecting PPS decisions and argues that a legal challenge by Sean Hoey, however painful for the Omagh families, may be the only means of lifting the shroud of secrecy around the PPS and its actions.

  • BonarLaw

    This is just the most extreme example of how the Ombudmans’ office is distorting the justice system in NI. A complaint to the Ombudsman by an accused is commonly now being used as leverage against the police via the “I’ll drop my case if you drop yours” line.

    Sad thing is, sometimes it works.

  • The Irish RM

    Maybe this particular Peeler will now think twice to remind himself he’s not living in the good old and cannot lift any Fenian he likes on a trumped up charge to accommodate racist parades.

  • brendan,belfast

    Didn’t the PPS recently take on a PR person in a bid to become more ‘transparent’? where is that person? why cant they even be asked the relevant questionlike the ones highlighted by Newton?

  • Only Asking

    It’s in no ones interested for a policeman to be set up in this way. It wasn’t right when it happened to dissident or main stream republicans and it still isn’t right when it happens on the other side of the divide.

    Political policing must stop, the rule of law needs to be impartial and justice must be blind.

  • Fermanagh Unionist

    The Irish RM – I think anyone with an ounce of wit can see the charge was not “trumped up” against “any fenian”.

    The charge against the police man is a disgrace.

  • mnob

    i always had a chuckle when the shinners called for an end to political policing when what they meant was hey its our turn.

  • steve

    Ahh yes Nob as we all know SF run both the Ombudsmans office and the PPS?

  • Twinbrook resident

    again the way these parades are policed is in question here. These parades think that when marching they have a right to stop anyone crossing the road on which they are marching. Not only do they use heavy handed tactics to facilitate this, they are openly supported by a PARTISAN police force who still operate on a policy of croppies lie down….
    I`ve had occasion to witness this myself and when I`ve attempted to ask the police the reasons for their actions have been told to f**k off and contact the police ombudman!!!
    One law for one and none for others.

  • BonarLaw

    The irish rm

    there was indeed racism on display on the day in question. Remind me who exactly was making the Nazi salutes?

  • agh

    in fairness to the nazi salutes, the Irish governent were siding with Hitlers cronies back then so their is a strong association between republicans and the nazies.
    I read once, that every argument will eventually lead to talking about Nazies… Probably an urban myth, but quite a few on slugger go down that line lol.

  • agh, I think you’re referring to Godwin’s Law.

    Twinbrook, it would take a severe bigotry severely twisted logic to turn this event back on the police, and even moreso on the loyal orders.

  • brendan,belfast

    thats the first time i have ever read tne phrase, ‘in fairness to Nazi salutes’.

  • Dec

    Twinbrook, it would take a severe bigotry severely twisted logic to turn this event back on the police, and even moreso on the loyal orders.

    Whilst it’s perfectly fine to turn it back onto the GAA.

  • Dec – who did that? The GAA hasn’t been mentioned in the comments until you brought it up.

    Am I missing something?

  • Dec

    The Police Ombudsman’s office has been heavily criticised by a resident magistrate as he cleared a PSNI officer of assault following incidents involving GAA fans during a Royal Black Perceptory church parade in Enniskillen.

  • The Irish RM

    “Twinbrook, it would take a severe bigotry severely twisted logic to turn this event back on the police, and even moreso on the loyal orders.”

    Why? It’s quite clear the cop tried to make an unwarranted arrest on the back of his spurious claim that this man shouted something. Maybe he just cracked up at the Nazi jibes the others were making towards him and the racist Order on parade. Too close to the knuckle for him perhaps. Either way it’s heartening to see such power crazy individuals brought back to earth even if he got lucky and was let off by a magistrate who somehow has seen fit to rule on a case that was not before him – kind of makes a nonsense of his criticism of the Ombudsman.

  • That is a statement of fact and a description of who was involved. They had just finished attending a GAA match. If anything it might explain their presence in the area.

    That statement no more blames the GAA than it does the police or the RBP. It was Twinbrook looking to blame the way parades are policed, which has f**k all to do with it.

  • “unwarranted arrest”

    Ballocks.

    “his spurious claim that this man shouted something”

    There were witnesses. The Ombudsman’s office chose to ignore them because they supported that claim.

    The rest of that comment isn’t even worth replying to, it’s such patent nonsense. If you’re going to knowingly and wilfully make things up then correcting you would be futile.

    It’s fairly obvious that there are folk here who will try to blame the police even when it’s been established that they’re the victims here. And then these same people will wonder why others are sceptical when brutality is claimed. Can you really not see the connection?

  • Twinbrook resident

    and it is also clear,the Police still hold onto the belief that they are a law onto themselves and do no wrong a thought process which some who see the Police as “theirs” still cling too.
    No-one should be afraid of openness, honesty and accountability….
    Unless off course they`ve something to hide!

  • jaffa

    “the racist Order on parade”

    remind me who the separate “races” are here please.

    ever hear of the narcissism of small difference?

    I took a look at the Royal Black Perceptory and their charitable habits. £321,000 in four years to charities supporting Christians in countries not practicing religious tolerance. Cultural arrogance maybe; class prejudice quite likely; self righteousness almost certainly…but racism?

    http://www.royalblack.org/news.html
    http://www.opendoorsusa.org/

  • “No-one should be afraid of openness, honesty and accountability…. “

    They’re not, they’re afraid of malicious prosecution facilitated by an incompetent or, even worse, hostile quango.

  • Dec

    That is a statement of fact and a description of who was involved. They had just finished attending a GAA match. If anything it might explain their presence in the area.

    That statement no more blames the GAA than it does the police or the RBP.

    Yeah, right.

    The phrase used was: ” incidents involving GAA fans during a Royal Black Perceptory church parade in Enniskillen. ”

    No mention of the PSNI, the marchers or their supporters made in relation to these ‘incidents’. Quelle surprise.
    What club were these supporters linked to? What code? No just lump them under the rather broad but convenient banner of the GAA and apportion involvement accordingly. All rather ironic given the main thrust of the thread.

  • jaffa

    “No mention of the PSNI, the marchers or their supporters made in relation to these ‘incidents’”

    If it helps the “police” referred are actually the PSNI and the “marchers” are the Royal Black Perceptory.

    Surprised you missed that.

  • Dec you seem to be the only one apportioning blame to the GAA. I make no secret of my broad distaste for the GAA and I’m not blaming them.

    Jaffa, he didn’t. In fact he quoted it himself. I’m still not sure why though.

  • Twinbrook resident

    “They’re not, they’re afraid of malicious prosecution facilitated by an incompetent or, even worse, hostile quango.”

    As opposed to a Police Authority which NEVER saw Police as guilty of any misdemeanor….

    now we have a semblance of accountability and only those who take the law into THEIR own hands and believe they are exempt from the law because of their position have something to fear!

    Openness, honesty and accountability but only in our TERMS!!!!!

  • Twinbrook, what this case proves is that it’s not just guilty ones have something to fear though. This guy was found to be innocent and yet was dragged through the courts by a case that should never have been brought to court in the first place (according to the magistrate himself).

    If it was “only those who take the law into THEIR own hands and believe they are exempt from the law because of their position” then there wouldn’t BE a problem.

  • The Law and the Order

    During the summer of 1996 a total of seven RUC officers were suspended on full pay for their involvement in Orange Order protests. Four of the men, including a sergeant, had taken part in a Royal Black Institution parade in Fermanagh. Following a query from the Pat Finucane Centre in April 1997 as to how the RUC could justify the lengthy suspensions on full pay we were informed two days later that a press statement was pending. The men were reinstated though an internal inquiry is still pending (Irish News, 18.4.1997). Three of the other suspended officers are reported to be from the North Down area and one of them has been charged with a criminal offence in connection with loyalists protests in the summer of 1996. The suspensions give the impression that the RUC is tackling the issue. In fact they were forced to do so following a January 1996 judicial decision which upheld the right of the RUC to discipline an officer who had taken part in both Orange and Apprentice Boys parades. At issue was not membership of the Orders per se. The officer in question, Billy Stewart, had been told by an Assistant Chief Constable that “there was no problem with going on parade as long as he was not in a prominent position and his picture did not appear in the newspapers” (Crimson Banner, issue no. 6, Spring 1996, p.5). The Apprentice Boys, from whose newsletter the above quote is taken, took issue with the RUC and judicial handling of the case. If membership is not contrary to RUC regulations how can the public manifestation of membership, i.e. parading, be contrary to regulations ?

    I wonder if the peeler in the recent case belonged to any lodge?

  • BonarLaw

    The peeler in this case was dragged through the criminal courts only to find that his accusers were unable to give a consistant account of events and that those investigating the complaint failed to do so to the standards required of the Police Service itself.

    Regardless of the officers religio-political outlook he was treated shabbily by a quango with an agenda who seemingly investigated the case with their anti-police blinkers firmly in place.

  • Twinbrook resident

    a quango,
    an organisation that works to benefit all those who WE don`t agree with or THOSE We don`t want to see achieve equality and justice..
    so a quango is only a quango when its now our quango

  • Twinbrook resident

    now should have read…not

  • BonarLaw

    Twinbrook

    and how exactly did this blinkered and possibly politically motivated investigation serve anyones’ understanding of equality and justice?

  • steve

    Was this officer in gaol for 4 years on baseless charges and police lies like Sean Hoey was?

    So there is still a double standard?

  • Laughable

    “No mention of the PSNI, the marchers or their supporters made in relation to these ‘incidents’. Quelle surprise.
    What club were these supporters linked to? What code? No just lump them under the rather broad but convenient banner of the GAA and apportion involvement accordingly. All rather ironic given the main thrust of the thread.”

    “Their supporters” – its a royal black church parade in Fermanagh FFS. Would be surprised it the supporters amounted to more than a few elderly wives.

    “marchers” – no doubt 30 or 40 mainly elderly men.

    The men allegedely assaulted by the cop were Fermanagh GAA supporters who had just watched their county play Donegal

    Some of the mopery and ignorance on this topic are laughable

  • Twinbrook resident

    “blinkered and possibly politically motivated investigation”
    Bonar…
    can you not see the irony of this statement?

  • aquifer

    This prosecution has been shown to be terribly flawed. The PCC need to catch themselves on.

    Police personnel must have scope to act quickly to quell provocation before it develops into disorder.

    It is NOT the right of republicans or anyone else to provoke disorder and then lie about it, or to be indulged by the authorities.

    Unless republicans are to be our new royalty, above the law?

  • Outsider

    Who cares that the GAA fan had been aggressive towards the parade and continually shouted obscenities at members on parade even after being warned to stop by the police.

    This policeman should have been sent down for arresting a violent thug no ifs or maybes.

  • Outsider

    During the summer of 1996 a total of seven RUC officers were suspended on full pay for their involvement in Orange Order protests. Four of the men, including a sergeant, had taken part in a Royal Black Institution parade in Fermanagh.

    Law and order

    I hope this ludicrous statement of yours is a joke. Policemen being members of a lawful organisation and being and participating in protests which they are perfectly entitled to do is not a matter of concern for their employers.

    Its pretty clear what sort of ‘Law and order’ you want distributed.

  • Turgon

    What is really surprising here is the fact that the Police Ombudsman’s office and Public Prosecution Service pursued this case in such an incompetent fashion. I wonder if they expected this officer to plead guilty or were they put under external pressure to bring this apparently vexatious prosecution?

    The problems the PSNI had with the Omagh bombing are clearly going to be investigated by the ombudsman’s office and the DPP; after this debacle one is hardly filled with any confidence at all in either organisation. To use a popular phrase are they fit for purpose?

  • Alex S

    If the RM thinks that some of those giving evidence to the court under oath were lying should they not be prosecuted for perjury?

    Remember lord Archer!

  • Law and Order

    Outsider:
    I understand all of the peelers in question participated in illegal protests and illegal parades which were part of the well-organised campaign,which included murder, conducted over five days in July 1996 to bring the North to a standstill in support of the Portadown Orangemen.

    The peelers in question were also failing to act in accordance with a legally binding instruction issued by their own Chief Constable. Elsewhere, their actions would have been termed “mutiny” and accordingly dealt with as such.

    It was the collective inaction of the so-called police force over those five days while they, in contrast over the next 72 hours, used unprecedented violence in places like the Garvaghy Road, Lower Ormeau Road and Derry which left the British Government with no choice but to set up the Patten Commission. Or so the HMG concluded.

    By the way, The RUC was later to admit that “662 plastic bullets were fired in Drumcree related (loyalist/unionist/Orange) disturbances throughout the North.” In contrast, from 11 July (from the time the peelers forced the march along Garvaghy Road until 6 am on Sunday 14 July) the RUC officially admitted to firing 5,340 plastic bullets. No figures are available for the number fired by the British Army.

    Take it up with the peelers or HMG is you disagree.

  • Law and Order,
    Correct me if I’m wrong here, but your argument would appear to be that as a number of police were involved in “illegal protests and parades” in 1996, the PSNI officer in this particular case, 10 years later, is not entitled to a fair and just trial…is that a reasonable summary of your position?

    Following a query from the Pat Finucane Centre in April 1997 as to how the RUC could justify the lengthy suspensions on full pay we were informed two days later that a press statement was pending.

    With your use of “we” there I assume that you are working for the Pat Finucane Centre, would this kind of case, involving as it does the abuse of the legal system by those “in command”, not be something exactly the kind of thing that you campaign against?

  • Sorry, that last sentence should read:

    With your use of “we” there, I assume that you are working for the Pat Finucane Centre, would this kind of case, involving as it does the abuse of the legal system by those “in command”, not be exactly the kind of thing that you campaign against?

  • Rory

    A Resident Magistrate freeing an accused policeman is hardly earth shattering news. Less “cow jumps over moon” and more “day follows night” sort of news really. Itis after all what Resident Magistrates do – they support the police, come hell or high water.

    Still, the fellow has been acquitted and we must leave it at that as far as the the charge against him is concerned.

    We are still left however with the possible repercussions which the RM’s remarks might have on the judgement of the Ombudsman’s Office and the way in which it arrived at that judgement. But while we are obliged to accept the RM’s verdict we are not obliged to accept the reasons he gave for delivering that verdict and the remarks that followed thereon.

    More investigation is now required – but I anticipate more hot air instead.

  • Shore Road Resident

    “A Resident Magistrate freeing an accused policeman is hardly earth shattering news” –

    That would be a fair point IF it was not the case that the ombudsman failed to interview witnesses, the alleged victim sustained no injuries and the PPS failed to take any of this into consideration – which are all indisputable facts. Justice Gerry Kelly would have had to throw this one out.

  • K man

    Rory,
    Take yourself down to the local magistrates court on a contest day and see how much the magistrate supports the Police. Your talking through your arse.

    Too many posters here are prepared to throw their support behind a cause and offer support and opinion when they know little or nothing of the facts. Bias and bigotry seem to be the only motivation for the majority of posts on topics such as this.

    Feel your heads lads.

  • Rory

    K Man, on the days when I had the dubious pleasure of attending before a magistrates’ court I did not have to take myself down. The local constabulary were always insistent on giving me escort. Which was nice.

    As for talking arses and feeling heads – I shall leave all that up to you – you appear to know more than I in that regard.

  • The Law and the Order

    Police officers, like everyone else, are entitled to their private views, and to join legal organizations that reflect those views. The key issue is whether membership of such organizations affects officers’ ability to discharge their duties effectively and impartially. I have no doubt that the vast majority of people in the North (as well as those in England. Scotland and Wales, as well as the South) prefer that public servants were not members of secret societies or organizations perceived to be sectarian such as the Orange Order, RBP etc, or the Ancient Order of the Hibernians or secretive socities such as the Freemasons. At least one former Chief Constable here has said that he would strongly prefer that members of the police service did not belong to Orange lodges.

    Provided it is clear that an officer’s primary and overriding loyalty must be to the police service and to the values of that police service (a point which the peelers who took part in the pro-Drumcree protests did not appreciate), membership of any legal organization should not render someone ineligible to join the police.

  • The key issue is whether membership of such organizations affects officers’ ability to discharge their duties effectively and impartially

    No, as I pointed out before, the key issue here is whether this particular PSNI officer is entitled to a just and fair trial irrespective of what RUC officers may or may not have done 10 years ago.

  • Reader

    The Law and the Order: Provided it is clear that an officer’s primary and overriding loyalty must be to the police service and to the values of that police service
    So it looks that Republicans couldn’t ever join the police, north or south, either! And I thought there had been so much progress…
    Are you sure you don’t want to revisit your very tight restrictions so that they are acceptable to both left and right footers? And to people who believe in civil liberties and/or the rule of law too!

  • K man

    Rory, my point stands. Give what you allude to here I doubt you are is a position of independence regarding this topic. You seem more likely a member of the anti PSNI, anti justice, blinkered lot referred to previously.

    Some people simply just have no respect for any kind of law and order. The next time you get taken to court you can take comfort from knowing its a service, not a constabulary doing so.

    Again, the main motivation here is venom and deep seated bigotry, rather than an informed conclusion. Don’t agree if it doesn’t suit your blood tinted view point.