PSNI officers suspended as result of sectarian and racist text messages

Four PSNI officers have been suspended following an internal police investigation which uncovered racist and sectarian text messages.

Whilst not revealing the content of any texts, ACC Judith Gillespie did make this remark during her press statement on the matter:

“I would be confident that if you had access to any of these texts, you would find them deeply offensive.”

I don’t suppose we’ll have long to wait in order to make that judgement ourselves….

  • galloglaigh

    It will be interesting to see which ‘community’ they come from!

  • cynic2

    Do tell us, what is your assumption and why?

  • Neil

    I see no assumptions. But if I was a betting man, regarding the police here, which community has form? Of course it is possible that a bunch of hardline nationalists have managed to locate each other in the 80% PSNI, and find out each other’s views, without anyone else finding out. Or it could be the community that makes up four fifths of the organisation. We’ll have to wait and see as GG says.

  • cynic2


    That is called racial stereotyping. Its a form of racism and if you were a police officer would probably get you suspended

  • sherdy

    My first thought: some things never change. But on second thoughts in the RUC days this would never have seen the light of day. So maybe times are actually better.

  • BluesJazz

    My guess is they (and the Met guys) all opt for the Suarez defence.

  • I dont see any reason for cynicism. The PSNI have moved quickly and are obviously sincere in dealing with racism, sectarianism, homophobia whatever.
    We actually have a police service that genuinely has the supposrt of the three communities. And people like Judith Gillespie are part of the reason.
    I suspect that some colleagues might have been disgusted enough to grass them up.
    It is in marked contrast to the sluggish attitude of the Metropolitan Police.
    Of course the officers concerned are entitled to defend themselves vigourously against the allegations. And certainly it will interesting to see how the Police Federation handle their case.
    It has not always given me the impression that it is on board with the new PSNI.

  • galloglaigh

    I wasn’t assuming anything. It’s an interesting point!

    Let’s say though it was officers from the nationalist community. It would be a concern that the PSNI has failed to eradicate sectarianism from its ranks. If it was officers from the unionist community, it would be a concern that the PSNI has failed to eradicate sectarianism from its ranks. But as others have pointed out, it is a reflection on the PSNI that they have acted swiftly, and where the evidence requires, these people should rightly be removed from the PSNI, and dealt with in the full terms of the law – be they nationalist, unionist, or otherwise!

  • galloglaigh

    Might I add to that, unlike British soldiers!

  • RyanAdams

    It will be interesting to see if the individuals concerned are former RUC or Post Patten recruits. If its the former I wouldn’t be surprised, the latter unfortunately would greatly undermine the PSNI’s progress.

    PS Good to see wee have so many fair weather commenter’s on slugger! Where were you lot when we were discussing abuses of expenses and toners?!

  • andnowwhat

    The was a woman (an author I think) on H&M last year who was talking about homophobic and sectarian attitudes in the PSNI as well as the fall out of catholic officers. It got surprisingly little notice unless I missed something.

    Let’s not also forget that there are a fair few officers from the south as well as Polish

  • BluesJazz

    “these people should rightly be removed from the PSNI, ”

    Don’t agree galloglaigh, for the same reason the guy who tweeted pathetic remarks about the Bolton footballer Muamba should never have been sent to jail.
    Stupidity and ignorance are not criminal acts.

    Should Enoch Powell have been prosecuted for his “rivers of blood” speech? I think so. And Ian Paisley made hundreds of provocative hate filled sectarian rants.

    The instant messaging of texts, facebook, twitter et al are new territory for the law. And, unless anyone was harmed or provoked to harm, they should be given a warning. John Terry and Luis Suarez didn’t lose their jobs.

  • galloglaigh

    So let’s get this right BluesJazz. You would like to have PSNI officers who have sectarian and racist attitudes?

    While that might have been acceptable to some two decades ago, it shouldn’t be any more. Sectarianism is no laughing matter, and it’s the very thing that divides us all. I’ve come across PSNI officers with sectarian views, and have challenged them. The police force is no place for people like this, and their activity shouldn’t be softened by calling them stupid or ignorant; they are sectarian and racist. That in itself should say enough.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Even I’m not quite optimistic enough to believe that we have a police service where officers grass each other up.

    This smells a bit to me like the media got hold of the messages and the PSNI acted proactively before the story broke.

    It’s a real shame that we’re breaking this down into a prods vs taigs thing. There are twats in either community and some of them have made it into the PSNI.

  • tacapall

    Does anything surprise you about the police in this part of the world.

  • DC

    Correct Comrade, probably the time the Irish News got a hold of the PSNI mobile and saw pictures, perhaps that was the start of further investigations?

  • BluesJazz

    No galloglaigh, but are they any worse than Suarez? This could have been, admittedly offensive, banter. We live in a pc crazed world. Henry Kissinger is an evil bastard, but he got the Nobel prize. Perspective is the key.
    Are you *no pun intended* whiter than white? Devoid of prejudice? never made a sexist remark?
    Get off the high horse

  • Red Lion

    Or maybe they were texts shared and sent between catholic and protestant friends and colleagues in the police force, who knows?

  • BluesJazz

    Coincides nicely with the Met officers behaving badly.
    And with Judith Gillespie’s career progession to CC.

    Offensive texts are sent by the (many) thousands every day. But in some places they can become a career opportunity.

  • Alias

    You can’t be sacked by your employer in the UK for holding philosophical or religious views that your employer does not approve of but you can be sacked for holding political views since they do not enjoy statutory protection from discrimination.

  • Jimmy Sands

    It will be interesting to see which ‘community’ they come from!


  • Harry Flashman


    “The PSNI have moved quickly”

    Really? As quickly as they would have if a member of the public made the comments?

    How long was it between the bloke tweeting about the collapsed football player and his being banged up for two months? A fortnight was it?

    These peelers have been suspended and the investigation is ongoing even though the ACC said the comments were “deeply offensive”, how long does this sort of thing take to be investigated?

    Similarly in the Met cases, look at the positively glacial speed at which the investigations are being handled. If you or I made racist comments the cops would be hammering down our doors at 5am to show their anti-racist credentials.

    One law for the boys in blue and one law for the serfs who pay them.

  • USA

    Sectarian attitudes cannot be tolerated in any form. Not in speach, writing, video, tweeting, texting etc

  • Harry Flashman

    Who defines “sectarianism” USA? Is it to be like “racism” which is more often used (frequently here on Slugger) to try to shut down opinions one doesn’t agree with?

  • babyface finlayson

    Since we have so little detail on this story, it seems to me the post is just an invitation for us all to speculate according to our existing prejudices.
    An invitation which I am sure will be refused.

  • Mark

    Blue jazz ,

    Terry has lost his ” job ” as England Capt ( innocent until proven guilty ? ) however that has more to do with perception than anything else .

    I agree that the world has gone PC crazy and while this incident is unfortunate , compared to some of the scandals that have emanated from the RUC in the past …….

    Being married to a non national myself , I have experienced racism down here quite a few times . Luckily my other half is as tough as nails ……but really we can’t have racists in law and order positions .

    I have found that people who make racists comments are of the self loathing kind .

  • Red Kangaroo

    Sorry to state the obvious but many people who join the police all over the world seem to act in a fairly “thick” way. It’s not a Northern Irish thing. Glad they are dealing with it though.

  • galloglaigh


    These people are supposed to uphold the law. They have clearly breached their contract with the PSNI, and need to be removed if the evidence is there. Racism and sectarianism have no place in any police force. Get off your own high horse, and stop defending racist and sectarian behaviour. It’s wrong; they’re wrong; you’re wrong!

  • DC

    But isn’t it the case that the PSNI has only recently ended its sectarian recruitment?

  • tacapall

    Although Im not surprised by anything when it comes to revelations about the conduct of police officers here it nevertheless seems trivial to suspend those police officers for having racist and sectarian text messages on their phones that they may or may not have written, how can it be proved. At the same time Baggott nor the PSNI seem to be bothered or in any hurry to come public or charge any of those police officers and their superiors who returned weapons to loyalist paramilitaries that they then used to murder up to 7 innocent people including one child.

  • cynic2

    So if there’s no place in policing for sectarianism, why was PSNI founded on a sectarian recruitment policy? The Act actually was headed ‘DISCRIMINATION’ on the recruitment section

  • tacapall

    Cynic obviously you would describe “The McBride Principles” as being sectarian then.

  • andnowwhat

    From this morning’s Irish News in discussion with DCC Judith Gillespie:

    What can you tell us about the nature of the messages?

    “I can’t go in to the detail of it. All I can say is that they are of a highly offensive, racist and sectarian nature and there are other offensive texts as well.”

    Are the ant-Catholic or ant-Protestant? How would you characterise them?

    “I can’t go in to the detail of that other than to say they are deeply offensive”

    Were they police supplied or personal mobiles involved?

    “I can’t go in to the detail of that. All I can say is it was uncovered during a pro-active investigation in to entirely unrelated matters”

    What ranks are the 4 suspended officers?

    “They are not officers at a senior rank and they are from across a range of disciplines within the PSNI.”

    Are the officers known to each other?

    “The officers are known to each other but other than that, I can’t say anything further.”

    Are the suspended police officers of the same religion?

    “Again, I can’t go in to that detail.”

    Can you tell us the gender of the suspended police officers?

    “Again, I can’t go into that detail.”

    Where these texts sent while the officers were on duty?

    “The investigation is at an early stage and I can’t tell at this stage but obviously that’s an aspect that we will be looking at”

    Were the officers texting each other or were they texting members of the public?

    “The reason reason for the suspensions is the exchange of texts among the 4 officers.
    “The investigation will obviously look at that but at this stage there is no involvement of any member of the public.”

    Can you tell us what the initial investigation was that uncovered these texts?

    “No, I can’t go in to that.”

  • Reader

    tacapall: Cynic obviously you would describe “The McBride Principles” as being sectarian then.
    Some of the MacBride principles are sectarian, others are impractical. Overall, they would be illegal to apply here, without several years of covert preparation by a company to make them irrelevant anyway.

  • Alan N/Ards

    The McBride Principles. This is the famous or should I say infamous Sean McBride who led an IRA unit in a sectarian attack on Shankill rd united irishmen at the Wolfe Tone commemorationsin the 1930’s.

  • cynic2

    “you would describe “The McBride Principles” as sectarian then”

    Not at all. But why haven’t you answered the question?

  • cynic2

    “I can’t go in to the detail ”

    Awww come on DCC Gillespie. You outed the officers publicly so why do we have to wait for tomorrows Sunday World to find out the details? What possible reason have you for withholding the general nature of the allegations?

  • andnowwhat This lady is in the wrong job surely. She should try for MI5 after that performance. I wonder why they have two deputies to Baggott with one called assistant Finlay’s lightning conductor possibly?

  • Dec

    ‘This is the famous or should I say infamous Sean McBride who led an IRA unit in a sectarian attack on Shankill rd united irishmen at the Wolfe Tone commemorationsin the 1930′s.’

    Inaccurate and melodramatic. It was some members of the East Tipperary brigade who objected to the ‘Break with Capitalism’ banner the Shankill Road men were carrying and a brief fist-fight ensued after the latter refused to lower said banner.

  • Harry Flashman

    Were the East Tipperary IRA an especially pro-free market bunch back then? I wasn’t aware that the IRA were particularly in favour of capitalism, or could it be they just didn’t like godless nordie prods?

  • Dec

    There were conservative and socialist wings of the IRA back then and tensions between the two sides ran high in the 1930s – a division which ultimately saw former comrades taking opposite sides in the Spanish Civil War. The incident was ideological not sectarian and certainly had nothing whatsoever to do with Sean McBride.


  • socaire

    Recruitment to the RUC/PSNI has not been sectarian. All members are British and pro-Union.

  • cynic2

    “All members are British and pro-Union”

    Just as SF are?

  • Jimmy Sands

    “There were conservative and socialist wings of the IRA back then ”

    Not really. the lefties walked/were pushed leaving the antisemitic reactionaries. And of course Noel Browne would find out in due course just how “socialist” McBride was once he got a belt of the crozier.

  • socaire

    Cynic2, don’t mix up SF and the Provisional Alliance. You’re too smart for that?

  • Harry Flashman

    There was certainly a high representation of reactionary, Catholic, social conservatives in the IRA but I’m damn sure there were very few pro-free market capitalists. Most of them would have preferred the corporatist state advocated by Franco and Mussolini if they gave any thought to economics at all, which I doubt.

    That being the case I suspect it was not a passionate defence of capitalism represented by their objection to the banner but rather the socio-religious origins of the men carrying the banner (were the Belfast men the only left wing republicans at the demo?) that enraged the East Tipp bigots.

    The attack was not ideological therefore but rather obviously sectarian.

  • Harry Flashman

    A few minutes research answers my question, in fact the Belfast men were only one contingent of a huge gathering of left wing Republicans, it was their group however which was singled out by the stout Catholic lads of Tipperary.

    “In June 1934, for the first time, a contingent of workers numbering about 500 travelled from the Shankill and Ballymacarret areas of Belfast in a fleet of coaches to take part in the annual Wolfe Tine commemoration in Bodenstown, Co. Kildare. On arrival in Dublin they went to Arbour hill to lay wreaths on Connolly’s grave, and then travelled to Bodenstown to take part in the parade, behind their banners reading ‘Wolfe Tone Commemoration 1934 – Shankill Road branch – Break the Connection with Capitalism’ and ‘James Connolly Club, Belfast – United Irishmen of 1934.’ One of the men who carried the latter banner, Jim Straney, died crossing the Ebro, the last major offensive of the Republican forces in Spain in 1939 [1938].

    The Congress branches left the assembly field at Sallins as part of the huge parade, but when our Belfast friends tried to follow us, their path was barred by a cordon of the IRA with orders to prevent them from leaving unless they agreed to keep their banners furled. This the Belfast men refused to do, but charged the cordon and fought their way through to join the Republican Congress contingent numbering several thousand and march with them through Sallins village behind the Workers Union of Ireland band playing ‘The Red Flag.’

    The cemetery, however, was well guarded by the Tipperary Brigade. To avoid an unseemly outcome, the wreaths were laid on the roadside, and we withdrew to Sallins. The Irish Times commented next day on the irony of Ulster Protestants being prevented by Tipperary Catholics from honouring Wolfe Tone.”

    Yes quite clearly the men of Tipp were simply defending the delicate flower of international capitalism when they singled out the Belfast prods for treatment.

    I enjoyed the bit later on:

    “On the following day, Easter Monday, [1936] Willie Gallagher, Communist MP for West Fife, was listed as one of the speakers at a Congress Rally in College Green. There was a very large crowd, mostly hostile, but no platform for the speakers (the owner of he lorry had been intimidated). Peadar O’Donnell mounted a street lamp standard and commenced speaking. This was the signal for a volley of stones, bricks and bottles which crashed against the wall of the Bank of Ireland behind us.

    At this stage the police stopped the meting. Peadar O’Donnell, Gene Downey and myself were taken into ‘protective’ custody and removed to College Street police station. We could hear the mob roaring for our blood outside in between singing hymns, ‘Faith of our Fathers’ was top of the charts.

    No it was all about capitalism, nothing about being a good Catholic, I can see that. Ideological not remotely sectarian.

  • tacapall

    Its mind boggling that an ACC of the PSNI could come off with this statement –

    “The message is loud and clear, that racist and sectarian behaviour on the part of police officers is absolutely not tolerated by the Police Service of Northern Ireland.”

    But then the same PSNI refuse to reveal whether those police officers and their superiors who facilitated the UDA in murdering 7 innocent victims will be charged with any offences or if they are now PSNI officers.

  • cynic2


    Why are you surprised?

    By 1934 the ‘ra was more into National Socialism than Socialism

  • cynic2

    “From this morning’s Irish News in discussion with DCC Judith Gillespie”

    Now now. Dont be so harsh on the poor woman. She has to keep both the Unionist and the Republicans on the Police Board happy so she gives out just enough to be seen to be doing something but not enough to drop her in it with either or both sides. A master class in good politics then. Whether or not its good policing – well that’s a different discussion perhaps.

    And you never know. Perhaps one of these days we will actually see the Chief Constable appear on screen to explain some of these things.

  • Nevin [9.16] So which of assistant CC Finlay, or the deputy CC are of the superior rank? seems unnecessarily confusing having both posts.

  • Barnshee

    “Cynic obviously you would describe “The McBride Principles” as being sectarian then.”

    Silly old Cynic –the McBrides are old hat -Areas like the “Fair emplyment industry” Derry City Council, Newry City Council (whisper it HMRC ) would be embarassed by McBride. Silly old cynic —the McBrides don`t apply if the prods would be “favoured”