Difficult days for Sinn Fein and policing…

I WONDER if it’s more than just coincidence that a couple of days after Gerry Adams says the IRA will not be making a return to dealing with crime, that a man is shot in both legs in the Sinn Fein leader’s West Belfast constituency. Since this had become a pretty rare event of late, was this shooting one of the dissident groups sticking two fingers up at Adams for his support for the PSNI? Meanwhile, the Chief Constable has criticised the Policing Board for going ‘a bit tribal’. This seems to be Orde’s response to Sinn Fein claiming the PSNI had not acted on intelligence before the recent murder of a former IRA prisoner, which led to a row last week. Sinn Fein and police are essentially accusing each other of not doing their jobs properly – Orde says he answers “more strategic questions… from my junior officers than I do currently from the Police Board”, while SF’s expectations of policing are not being met in the community it represents.

  • Debbie

    It’s not often I agree with Maskey but in this instance he is right.

  • Steve

    I wonder why Orde is working so hard to sabotage support of the police from the Nationalist community.

    Its obvious a cover up for incompetence but is it more than just that?

    Does he want a return to pre GFA where the unionist laud the police for their “hard work” and nationalists point out their obvious incompetence?

  • Dec

    Orde says he answers “more strategic questions… from my junior officers than I do currently from the Police Board”

    Ok, here’s a couple.

    Question 1:

    The community you’re paid to police informs your officers that an escaped violent prisoner has been repeatedly spotted in their area. Do you:
    a) respond immediately and attempt to capture the individual and ward off any potential risk to the public


    b) wait until the community reports that same escaped prisoner has, along with an accomplice, battered someone to death in their own home before sending out a spokesperson to ask for witnesses from the community to come forward.

    Question 2

    CCTV indicates a large group of loyalists are heading acrosss the city centre in the direction of a traditionally Catholic area. Do you:

    a) Send a large team of officers to intercept the group and ward off any potential risk to the public (like the time you sent 40 riot squad officers with dogs into McLaughlin’s Bar to apprehend an off-licence robber)


    b) turn up after a bar has been attacked and a man’s throat cut in broad daylight, before sending out a spokesperson to say it was a clash of football hooligans and that the presence of the PSNI prevented things from getting really out of hand.

  • Norton

    Dec – I think the problem with his point is that the scenarios you describe are actually day-to-day tactical decisions.
    Orde needs to realise that we have a unique policing structure which gives elected representatives a huge ability to scrutinise him and his officers.
    The people on those bodies did not put themselves forward to sit and listen to grand eloquence about planning for 21st century policing, comparisons with forces in other parts of the world, or any other magnificent strategic nonsense.
    They believe they are there to bring forward questions about policing and naturally specific police failings. And I believe that if they are there for anything, that should be it.
    If Hugh Orde wants to talk grand strategy and avoid getting bogged down into the nuts and bolts of the job, then he is in the wrong place.
    And another point to Orde – one does not need to be a great strategic thinker to see that you are going wrong. If an army loses a thousand men a day , then one doesn’t need to know about the strategy to know that it is wrong.

  • BonarLaw


    regardless of how unique our policing structures the Policing Board does not have any role in operational matters, control of which resides with the Chief Constable.

  • “the Policing Board does not have any role in operational matters”

    But the BIIC Joint Secretariat does, BL. It’s involved in policy and day-to-day decision making as it was under the AIIC JS label. You’ll find that some decisions that, for example, have been attributed to Chief Constables were taken at a political level.

  • “Look at the questions that are asked at Policing Board.

    “Bearing in mind the purpose of the Policing Board is to hold me to account and to build confidence in policing… if you get a question from one party, you get a counter question from the other party, in a way not so much about policing but it’s about a different political debate.”

    Looks like the politicos are trying to score political points at each other’s expense …

  • Dec


    By his comments, Orde appears to be aware he is there to be held to account. To then attempt to describe all attempts to do so as ‘tribal’ is odd.

  • Billy Pilgrim


    “Looks like the politicos are trying to score political points at each other’s expense …”

    You sound surprised!

    Seriously though, the police performance surrounding the Nazi attack on Cosgrove’s bar was shameful, absolutely shameful, and Orde should admit as much.

    I know the policing board doesn’t have authority over “operational matters” but does that mean it can’t take Orde to task for obvious operational failures?

    Also, it’s Orde who decides what an “operational matter” is, which is surely too easy a get-out for him? (For example, I think I’m right in saying he insisted that the introduction of tasers was an operational matter – total bullshit, it’s obviously a question of policy, and should have gone before the PB.)

    The chief constable shouldn’t be allowed to use “operational matters” the way the government uses “national security”.

  • Damian O’Loan

    Many Policing Board meetings are public – I would really recommend people going along to check one out some time.

    The idea that the police are held to account by the Board seems a bit much at times during these meetings. That is because large sections of questions and comments are devoted to party political differences. That is Orde’s point. These kind of comments, regular in all politics, rarely feature in publically available minutes as they aren’t substantive. But they affect value for money, if you like. This might be improved were people to attend – then again, maybe that would make it worse…

    Orde’s comments form part of a much wider picture. Watch any oversight Committee on BBC Parliament, for example, and you will see much the same. He’s criticised for being a ‘politician’, but he really does have to listen to a lot of petty squabbling and then respond,at times instead of having to justify leadership during a difficult period for the PSNI and those seeking justice.

  • “it can’t take Orde to task for obvious operational failures”

    Not if those operations were ‘arranged’ by the BIIC JS. These would be classified as ‘inter-governmental’ activities and so not subject to any form of political or other scrutiny.

    I don’t know the particulars of the Cosgrave Bar affair but it seems some folks have been taken in for questioning re. the potentially lethal knife attack.

    I wonder how much policing cover is available at weekends. Apparently a lot of money has been taken out of the policing budget to facilitate the historical enquiries team. I also wonder how much of a police officer’s time is taken up in paper work compared with, say, forty years ago.

  • Billy Mc

    This outburst from H Order vindicates Sinn Féin going on the Policing Board .Its proves that at long last the PSNI are starting to be held to account

  • Ian

    Brings to mind Father Jack:


  • BonarLaw


    you do love your north southery don’t you? NSMC (or was it SEUPB) on the Causeway now BIIC JS on the beat…

    Anyhow, in this case you are wrong. Operational control lies with the Chief Con. See, for example, section 33 of the Police (NI) Act 2000.

  • Norton

    Bonar Law – no-one is disputing that the Chief Constable is in charge of operations. I think though that the Policing Board and in particular District Policing Partnerships are there to give feedback on how those operations have panned out.
    Communities aren’t interested in grand talk about the overall plan to combat street drinkers across the UK. They want to know what is being done about the particular group of street drinkers on Main Street and if there’s no operation to remove them, the reason, and there being such, why it has failed?

  • “Operational control lies with the Chief Con.”

    That’s been the official line since 1985 and some folks seem to buy it, BL.

    If you talk (nicely) to members of the SDLP they might describe the ‘back channel’ for you.

    You can also read the 1996 Dick Spring briefing which in a rambling sort of way explodes the myth that the CC always has full operational control. Sometimes he just offers advice and sometimes he reads out decisions that have been agreed by London and Dublin or have been taken by London alone.

  • It will not hurt Mr Orde to put up with a bit of political bickering, after all the people of the north have heard one hell of a lot of political bullshit from chief constables down the years, especially the nationalist community.

    As Norton has touched on, the problem is these police committees have very little power and were sold by SF to its supporters and constituency as having teeth, by that I mean operational control, hence people are very disillusioned.

    Whether Adams thought SF members could brow beat the PSNI over this issue we do not know, but without some operational input, i.e. how areas are policed and when and by whom, then these Committees are nothing more than widow dressing, as indeed they are throughout the rest of the UK. It has to be said that in England no competent local politician would bother sitting on a police committee.

  • Comrade Stalin


    In case you mightn’t have noticed, Belfast on a Saturday is full of spides dressed just like the wankers who carried out the attack on Castle Street. Would you care to explain how you’re meant to distinguish the ones who are contemplating an attack on a bar ?

    If every group of spides in the town was being stopped and searched for weapons the chuckies would be the first ones out banging their bin lids about it ..

  • “these Committees are nothing more than widow dressing”

    Interesting typo, Mick.

  • RepublicanStones

    Companero Stalin, they might be dressed similar to other mouhty pricks who eat in Mickey D’s and hang about outside ‘The Foot Locker’ rubbing thier prepubescent caterpillar moustaches but, a gang of about 20-30 is easy to spot, esp if there are photos and cctv coverage.

  • Nevin,



    It’s very simple. The credibility of Hugh Orde & the PSNI hangs on incidents like Cosgrove’s Bar. IF, given the amount of CCTV and security camera coverage of the City Centre, no one is prosecuted and jailed for this heinous attack it WILL send very negative messages to many people about policing, particularly young Catholics. Mr Orde is in another dimension altogether if he thinks most of the criticism of his force is political OR religiously contrived; it is NOT. We just want thugs, thieves, death drivers, drug dealers and anti social scumbags pursued, caught & jailed. Stop creating an agenda Hugh to deflect criticism from POOR policing.

  • RepublicanStones

    Lurig….nail….head !

  • Gregory

    “The credibility of Hugh Orde & the PSNI hangs on incidents like Cosgrove’s Bar. ”

    They were all over my place last night, how dare Gerry allege that fine body of chaps and chapettes are slacking.

    I was getting up for an early cycle and they appeared to have confiscated a motorbike in Gransha. Call it 5-30 in the AM.

    It was a 50 cc pseudo racer. If it was nicked the owner is well shot of it. Unless it was a kid’s of course, and he might have loved it.

    I’d be seriously pee’d if I lost a pedal cycle.

    I keep them in the house now, they’re so expensive to replace.


  • Gregory

    “This outburst from H Order vindicates Sinn Féin going on the Policing Board .Its proves that at long last the PSNI are starting to be held to account ”

    I’ve still got a long list of stuff they’re not allowed to do,

    if justice.gov said they were forcing pedophiles to register their hotmail addys, the cops in the USA would say the AG had fluff for brains.

    (and knew sweet fanny adams about the art of sockpuppetry)

    I have an LEA which allows male teachers & care-workers to book into hotel rooms, not just hotels but the same room as 14 and 15 year old schoolgirls!

    No female chaperones. I can’t get the Chief Constable to issue a statement remarking how unwise or problematical it is.

    (These are the same ridiculous eejits talking about false allgations)

    We have 50 year old teachers taking little girls to pubs, to the cinema, it is crazy stuff,

    the cops have to keep their gobs shut because the unions & politicos would roast them.

    The PSNI went bonkers when I forced them to tag the CBS for secretly filming changing rooms.

    They phoned me next day after the UUP press release, asking me what the UUP meant by ‘intervene’.

    I told them it meant I was going to be in Nuala O’Loan’s office within the hour if it meant the cops were not showing up at that school.

    The PSNI are not allowed to do ‘Catholics’ if the latter have a school, without first getting it sanctioned by the powers that be, in other words, the Northern Bishops.