Will Chief Constable Hamilton pass the Dervock test or will he endorse the hate?

If “the right to freedom from sectarian harassment” promised in the Good Friday Agreement is to mean anything, then the newly appointed PSNI Chief Constable, George Hamilton, will shortly be directing his officers to remove the loyalist flag erected inside the grounds of Our Lady and St John the Evangelist Church in Dervock.

The Irish News reported earlier in the week that loyalists had erected a flag from the same lamp post last weekend when also painting the church gate and kerbstones red, white and blue. At that time, the UDA-aligned UPRG spokesman, William McCurry, said young people had painted the gates “out of frustration and anger” after being criticised for erecting the flag. Subsequently, nationalists removed the flag whilst senior loyalists appear to have directed their minions to repaint the church gate. The kerbs remained loyal.

Following on from the Ardoyne/ Crumlin Road Parades Commission determination, local loyalists returned the flag to the post inside Church grounds, and a photograph in today’s Irish News appears to show PSNI officers in discussion with loyalists outside the church in the immediate aftermath of the incident occurring.

The PSNI did not intervene.

No arrests were made.

A blind eye was turned to the hate.

Today, loyalist leaders have told The Irish News that the flag will not be coming down now.

The beleagured minority catholic parishioners of Dervock must realise their lowly status in the Loyal village.

It says a lot about the leadership of political unionism that this flag has been allowed to be returned without a swift and unambiguous intervention by senior unionist leaders, but then the unwillingness to tackle a prejudicial, supremacist mentality continues to define a political leadership willing to bring down a government because loyalists can not march past catholic homes at a sectarian interface twice in one day.

It’s decision time for the new Chief Constable.

Having so spectacularly failed to stand against the hate in Ballyclare 3 years ago, will the PSNI turn away again?