Not police’s responsibility to remove paramilitary placards – PSNI chief

Signs carrying death threats against police informers erected after Lyra McKee murder

A placard on lampost in the Creggan area of Derry. Photograph: Aoife Moore/PA

A placard on lampost in the Creggan area of Derry. Photograph: Aoife Moore/PA

 

It is not the police’s responsibility to remove paramilitary placards threatening informers, Derry’s police chief has said.

Two dissident republican placards carrying death threats against anyone giving information to the police were erected on lampposts in the centre of the Creggan area of Derry in the weeks after the murder of Lyra McKee.

The 29-year-old journalist was shot dead by dissident republican group the New IRA as she watched a riot in the area in April. Nobody has been charged with her murder.

The placards appeared in the area along with other pro-dissident signs and graffiti after her murder. The majority were removed following negotiations between dissident republican political party Saoradh and community workers in Creggan.

At the time, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said 140 people had come forward with images, footage and other details, and it promised that witnesses could be given anonymity.

A community source said these were the only signs to remain following those negotiations, and that while community’s position had not changed and they would like the signs to be removed, most people were “oblivious” and did not feel threatened or intimidated by them.

Pro-IRA grafitti which appeared in May just metres away from where the journalist Lyra McKee was killed in Creggan. Photograph: Aoife Moore/PA Wire
Pro-IRA grafitti which appeared in May just metres away from where the journalist Lyra McKee was killed in Creggan. Photograph: Aoife Moore/PA Wire

Ploy

Chief Inspector Jonathan Hunter said that the display of such placards was “a ploy that has been used over the years to undermine confidence in policing and is not reflective of what the wider community in this city wants or needs.”

He said that while the PSNI found the signs “as equally repugnant as the wider community does”, their removal was not the police’s responsibility.

“We want this city to be safe and inclusive and will fully support efforts by the relevant land or property owner to have them removed,” he said.

Derry City and Strabane District Council said the placards were not on council property.

The North’s Department of Infrastructure (DoI) has been contacted, but has not responded.

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan said that any “offensive item, including posters and graffiti which have the clear intention of provocation and intimidation, should be removed”.

He said that efforts had been made to remove such items in the wake of the murder of Lyra McKee.

“Clearly the DoI have a duty in this regard but council, the PSNI and indeed communities have a vital role to play as well,” he said. “The removal of such imagery from our streets requires a multiagency approach and public backing.

A spokesman for Sinn Féin said there was “absolutely no place for any type of intimidation or threatening behaviour in our society”.