PSNI chief under increasing pressure from unionist politicians

Northern Ireland Police Chief Simon Byrne is expected to come under increasing pressure from union politicians over a review of policing in South Armagh when he appears before the Police Council on Thursday.

DUP Economy Minister Gordon Lyons on Wednesday called for the police chief’s resignation. His party leader, Jeffrey Donaldson, said Mr Lyons had spoken on behalf of the party even though he had stopped asking the chief of police to resign.

Mr Donaldson said he intended to present his views to Mr Byrne in person at a separate meeting on Thursday, telling reporters he believed the chief of police had “lost the trust of unionists”.

The 170-page review of policing in South Armagh, published by the Northern Ireland Police Service on Tuesday, made 50 recommendations aimed at addressing issues of “trust, trust and pervasive influence of the past” as well as the “style and tone” of policing in the region.

Mr Donaldson said his party was “extremely concerned” by the proposals and was “very clear that there is no union support or approval for many aspects of what is being proposed in this report.

He said he would make it clear to the chief of police, “that he should not press regardless of this report and implement this report in circumstances in which I don’t think he has the confidence of unionists.”

The Ulster Federal Party also raised concerns and called for a “detailed clarification” from the police chief.

Defending Mr Byrne, the North’s justice minister, Naomi Long, said the chief of police had made it clear he wanted to work towards building trust throughout the community.

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“I think it’s up to the union leaders to give him the space and time but also the support to do so. I don’t think constantly calling for his resignation is a good way to build confidence in his leadership.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP welcomed the report, which they said was “too late”.

However, unionist politicians have condemned some proposals, including closing the Crossmaglen police station and that the police “should explore moving police memorials to an agreed location in the station away from public places and main roads”.

They also criticized the recommendation that a bilateral north-south policing agreement should be explored “with a view to facilitating joint rather than parallel policing operations” between PSNI and An Garda Síochána, which “at least” should enable across the “hot” border. stalking ‘between police authorities.

Shin Fen’s reaction

Conor Murphy, a Member of Parliament from Sinn Féin, said he could not “in my whole life understand this sudden reaction, to suppose that if we come to an agreement with the police in order to improve the police service, it is somehow at the expense of unionists. They really need to grow up.” “.

Mike Nisbet, a member of the Ulster Federal Assembly, said the proposal to explore the relocation of police memorials was “unacceptable” and that he had intended to question Mr Byrne at the police board meeting about “what he meant by referring to ‘joint police’ with Garda Síochána and the checkpoints that had appeared” reminiscent of the trouble. “.

In a letter to Mr Byrne, the leader of the traditional unionist voice, Jim Alistair, called for the resignation and described the report as a “new low” that claimed it represented “a hateful policy in promoting police throughout Ireland” and a “deep drain when it was suggested that officer memorials be hidden.” Those killed from the public eye.”

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The police chief previously faced calls from some unionists to resign after it was announced that Sinn Féin politicians who attended the funeral of former IRA member Bobby Storey would not face prosecution despite Covid-19 rules for public gatherings.

The chief of police confirmed Wednesday night that he had given assurances that there would be no “removal of memorials to fallen colleagues from any operational police stations” and that he would provide more details on this and other issues raised in the report at Thursday’s meeting. Police Council.

Separately, Mr. Donaldson is also scheduled to meet Tanist on Thursday as part of Leo Varadkar’s two-day visit to the North to talk to politicians and business leaders.

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