From Sir Jeffrey Donaldson <[email protected]>
Subject SF's grip on PSNI leadership must be broken
Date September 23, 2023 6:59 AM
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Good morning John

The Donaldson family has a deep-rooted history in policing on these shores. My father’s cousin Samuel was the first RUC officer to be murdered by the IRA in August 1970. He was responding to call about a stolen vehicle and alongside his colleague Robert Millar, was murdered by an IRA booby-trap.

When I talk about policing, the human sacrifice of officers’ lives, the impact on their mental health as well as the turmoil for families of officers is never far from my mind.

To be a police officer is to serve your community and stand in harm’s way to defend your community.

The headlines about policing in recent weeks have been the culmination of years where leadership in policing has been undermined.

Policing is about enforcing the law by pursuing those who engage in criminality and break the law. We ought all to be equal under the law.

That is why the perception of two-tier policing is so corrosive to the fabric of democracy. If the rule of law is not being enforced without fear or favour, then a basic building block of our democratic society is giving way and eventually the whole structure will fall.

Never was this so visible as the hands-off approach to the IRA funeral of Bobby Storey ([link removed]) and the revelation that the police, whether inadvertently or otherwise, provided Sinn Fein with a defence from prosecution.

As I travel around Northern Ireland, I still meet people who tell me how they buried their father or mother without their own children present so they could adhere to the covid health rules. To this day, they are furious that Sinn Fein organised a funeral for the IRA’s Bobby Storey, brought thousands of people onto the streets for a political rally in a graveyard and the police were complicit in the organising the event rather than in upholding the health rules.

The Metropolitan Police, amidst its own problems, was able to hold people in Westminster who broke covid rules accountable yet, the PSNI failed to hold people in Sinn Fein accountable for similar actions.

Why? That’s the question.

During that same covid period, other organisations brought people on to the streets, yet the PSNI policed those events in a different manner than the approach they took to Bobby Storey’s funeral.

Therein lies the problem.

Sinn Fein’s word should carry no more weight with the next Chief Constable than that of any other elected representative. There can be no more cases where its ‘one rule for Sinn Fein and another rule for the rest of us’.

This requires cultural and systematic change at senior levels of the PSNI. A High Court judgement only last month, confirmed that Sinn Fein were wrongly seeking to have two officers disciplined for doing their job and following orders.

The next Chief Constable and their Senior Command must be policing focused, not politics focused.

Fairness must be restored.

Policing will not be successful unless it commands support across the community. There can be no more cases where a dozen Land Rovers are dispatched to observe a small band parade yet not a Land Rover can be found to police a paramilitary show of strength where shots are fired.

We also need to see a concerted effort to recruit a new generation of officers from working class communities across Northern Ireland and encourage policing as a career pathway in our schools.

Some within nationalism are campaigning night and day to have 50:50 recruitment restored. They want 50% of recruits to be Roman Catholic in each recruitment round. We will oppose such a step. It would be a retrograde step. The only consideration in recruitment should be one’s ability to be a good police officer not their religious background.

Whilst Sinn Fein plays fast and loose with policing, the DUP will work tirelessly to equip the next Chief Constable with the tools to lead a police service which is utterly neutral and demonstrates in word and deed that all sections of our community are equal under the law and equally subject to the law.

Best wishes,

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP
DUP Leader

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