Police calls for politicians in potential trouble-spots to be more proactive in encouraging the resolution of contentious parades and reducing tensions have produced a furious reaction from… erm… politicians in potential trouble-spots…
In reaction to the comments Junior minister Mr Kelly said: “The question to ACC Finlay is why did he do it and where does he get the arrogance to say that there’s not enough being done when in fact throughout the year – not just at this time coming into the marching season – politicians like myself, community workers, residents groups and all others are trying their best to de-escalate the situation.
“This has done nothing more than to escalate the situation so I think he needs to explain why he had such an intervention and what the PSNI are doing about this.”
Culture minister Mr McCausland said he was “deeply disappointed” by the ACC’s public comments about politicians.
“We are not detached from the issues and we work alongside the community in doing all we can to ensure that there is a peaceful and quiet summer,” he said.
“If Mr Finlay has a message to relay to politicians he can do that most effectively by lifting the telephone or arranging a meeting.
“There is no need for megaphone diplomacy via the radio and television. I and my colleagues have met him in the past to discuss parades and protests and have no doubt that we will do so again.
“As an elected representative I face up to my responsibility and to suggest otherwise is unfair, unfounded and unfortunate.”
And the comments which caused the reaction…
[Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay] said politicians needed to be more pro-active in averting trouble rather than viewing violence as inevitable.
“There’s an opportunity to be pro-active,” he said.
“There’s an opportunity to do the right thing and show political leadership rather than maybe do what people want to hear or wait until the situation goes wrong and then criticise and crow over it.” [added emphasis]
Noting that the cost of policing parades last year totalled £3m, he said the money could have been spent elsewhere if agreements around contentious parades had been reached.
“Why should violence at parades be inevitable?” he asked later.
“It absolutely shouldn’t be, and it’s up to all of us to make sure it’s not.”
And it’s also worth noting what police sources told BBC NI’s Vincent Kearney
Police sources told the BBC politicians should work harder to encourage the resolution of contentious parades and reduce the likelihood of confrontation.
While they are hoping for the best, they have to prepare for the worst, which means large numbers of officers and equipment have to be deployed.
The PSNI said it has the resources needed, but also said politicians should do more to defuse tensions.