Crisis of confidence in PSNI, says Kelly

Sinn Féin spokesman on justice says North’s police force, under Matt Baggott, still operating on partisan basis

Republicans and nationalists in Northern Ireland have lost confidence in the PSNI chief constable, the North Belfast Assembly member Gerry Kelly told the Sinn Féin ardfheis on Saturday evening.

The Sinn Féin spokesman on policing and justice, who said there was a crisis of confidence in the PSNI, accused Mr Baggott of acting in a partisan fashion against nationalists.

"Some months back Matt Baggott indicated publicly that he wanted to attend a Sinn Féin ardfheis. He then followed that up by tasking the PSNI to facilitate illegal loyalist parades and by his action, left the Short Strand area open to continuous sectarian abuse and physical attack," said Mr Kelly.

"You might note his absence from our gathering here today. He has lost the confidence of the republican and nationalist people and if he is in any doubt about that, let him hear it from this ardfheis," he added.


Outlining problems with the PSNI Mr Kelly referred to: “The old guard interfering with the [police] ombudsman’s office; the refusal to give crucial evidence to inquests; the scandal of rehiring retired officers on huge financial severance packages; the different approaches to civilians and those with military backgrounds in HET [Historical Enquiries Team] investigations; the different approaches in policing between loyalist and republican demonstrations as witnessed in the so-called flag protests.”

Mr Kelly said republicans wanted a non-partisan, non-political, civic police service, which was human rights compliant and representative of the whole community.

“Differential policing must stop. The PSNI must be seen to be impartial,” he said.

Donegal TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn called on the Government to re-examine plans to close 139 Garda stations. He said there must also be renewed Garda recruitment.

During the policing and justice debate delegates endorsed a motion calling for the release of Old Bailey bomber Marian Price and dissident republican Martin Corey.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times