PSNI: Forward – and backward- steps as familiar refrain rings out from Stoneyford

Relations between the northern nationalist community and the PSNI have improved in recent times as a result of political developments and some progress in terms of both the attitude and actions of PSNI officers at ground and operational level. At anecdotal levels, I know of strengthening relationships between the PSNI and political and community representatives which has directly led to criminal activity being identified and dealt with effectively b y the PSNI. There is also evidence that the PSNI in some areas have taken steps to pro-actively deal with the type of low-level criminal behaviour which so frequently is identified by the public- nationalist, unionist and otherwise- as the main source of fear and grievance.
But there remains considerable ground to cover to transform the PSNI into a policing service which, below the surface, isn’t the same one which was widely regarded by nationalists as a sectarian and political force, alien and hostile to the nationalist community, culture and politics.
A series of stories in the media recently have served as a reminder to many of just how difficult it will be to transform the policing mindset in the north of Ireland. The failure of PSNI officers to deal promptly with a gun-toting thug on the Falls Road last year was back in the news recently when the PSNI Ombudsman found that the officers response was “below the standard expected”- the PSNI response was pathetic; it took 45 minutes to arrive on the scene, and when they did, they failed to leave their vehicle and drove off shortly afterwards.
Then, there was the ‘is there a dead body in your street?’ phone call from a PSNI officer to a naturally startled west Belfast resident recently, which again prompted a public reprimand from higher authorities but also betrayed an, at best, incompetent and, at worse, sectarian mentality from the PSNI officers involved.
The treatment meted out to Ireland’s Olympic Bronze Medallist by PSNI officers in his native north Belfast once again illustrated the animosity that prevails within elements of the PSNI to nationalists, and the latest revelations about the PSNI’s relationship with a certain loyalist business leader from Mid-Ulster have not served to help the process of moving forward.
For me personally, however, it is the persistent failure/unwillingness to deal with the activities of loyalists in the Stoneyford area which continues to serve as a sobering reminder that, whilst uniforms may change and personnel at ground level become more representative of the community, there remains a dark hand at work, permitting officers at one level to operate as a normal, policing organisation committed to tackling criminality and protecting the community, but clearly stepping in to protect others for reasons which we can only speculate, albeit with growing confidence.

  • LURIG

    Good post Chris, as usual. Your blogs are well thought out, well written and, like Brian Feeney, very much on the pulse of Northern Nationalists. There is NO doubt that the Nationalist community wants, indeed cries out for, an effective police service that represents all of us. There is nothing worse than a crowd of scumbags drinking outside your back door, anti-social elements annoying our pensioners and mature residents, criminal death riders stealing cars and crashing them into residential areas. I give credit where it is due and say that the cops on the ground in North & West Belfast are doing a decent job in very difficult circumstances. Many of them are genuine people and hate these cretins as much as the rest of us. The PSNI will acknowledge that residents in these areas are also working with them to resolve all these issues. HOWEVER I do also agree with you that many Nationalists also believe that, behind the scenes, there are STILL Loyalist & Republican agents and informers being protected by elements within the PSNI. This is going on in Stoneyford and Ballymena especially as one can see with the Loyalist sectarian campaign in Stoneyford and the dissident Republicans in South Antrim. How does Hugh Orde expect ordinary people in these areas, Catholic & Protestant, to give TOTAL support when they know these scumbags are being protected? The higher echelons of the PSNI should stop treating us ALL like fools as we know that many criminal elements and paramilitary agents STILL have LEGAL PROTECTION? It is just an insult to us!

  • “community representatives”

    Would these, by any chance, include loyalist and republican paramilitaries with a bit of previous? It’s rather sad to see police officers being coerced by London and Dublin into ‘hobnobbing’ with such low life.

  • Newton Emerson

    The people referred to in Martina Anderson’s press statement have also been seen working on Belfast’s courts. A great deal of local council work also comes their way.
    The mess that exposure of this story would create is really quite staggering. Deals will certainly be offered to prevent it happening – in fact, this Sinn Fein move could well be a negotiating tactic in a deal already underway.

  • picador

    Is it libel to name these companies and the people who own them?

  • Newton Emerson

    You can’t libel the dead. Whether you can libel the living in this case is not something to be tested on another person’s website.

  • picador

    It’s in today’s Irish News. One of the individuals was Richard Jameson who was allegedly commander of the UVF in Mid-Ulster at the time of his murder by the LVF in 2000.

    I can’t see how stating that Company X owned by Individual Y was paid amount Z to carry out work at security force installations amounts to libel. Especially if it has been discussed by the Policing Board.

  • picador

    Murder Most Foul

    One of the people whose name is mentioned in the linked article is a building contractor.

  • picador

    Murder Most Foul

    The power of Google!

    Note to self (get hyperlinks right / use use Preview feature)

  • Driftwood

    Re: Youths drinking and anti social behaviour, minority communities etc. This is a problem for all UK police forces and the Garda. It has wider implications for the courts and prosecution service. The culture of the Police has changed to become more like the civil service than military style. Hence the over emphasis on Traffic and community liason. Meeting targets and dealing with soft options. Taking on local thugs who may turn violent is not worth the risk.

  • Sean Og

    “The treatment meted out to Ireland’s Olympic Bronze Medallist by PSNI officers in his native north Belfast once again illustrated the animosity that prevails within elements of the PSNI to nationalists,”

    Did you heard this young lads attack on the Chinese Chris? People in Glass Houses.