Orange Order: South Armagh police report further ‘fuels allegations of two-tier policing’

The Orange Order has said its confidence in the PSNI is at an “all-time low” after the publication of the controversial south Armagh police review report. n a statement issued on Saturday the order launched a blistering attack on the police organisation, claiming the report’s publication further “fuels the allegations of a two-tier policing system”. A row erupted after the Chief Constable Simon Byrne launched the report on Tuesday which contained 50 recommendations, including closing down the heavily fortified Crossmaglen police station, closer working relations with An Garda Siochana and exploring the relocation of memorials to fallen officers. It led to a furious backlash from unionist politicians, some of whom have called on the chief constable to resign.

The statement comes as DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has warned there must be a “restoration of confidence” or Mr Byrne’s position would be untenable. The Order said: “On September 1, the Orange family remembered 339 members of the Institution who were murdered by terrorists – over 70 of whom were serving police officers. “On the previous day, the PSNI launched a report on policing in South Armagh which was highly political, insensitive and clearly designed to appease nationalism.”

“Furthermore, our members are sick of the rank hypocrisy of Sinn Fein who, whilst continuing to eulogise those who for decades, murdered and maimed police officers and soldiers in South Armagh, now ironically demand that policing is delivered on their terms.” The statement continued: “This report is the latest addition to a catalogue of ill-judged decisions in the past 18 months which illustrate the PSNI’s clear lack of understanding of the concerns of the Unionist community and further fuels the allegations of a two-tier policing system. “The PSNI has once again shown its obsession with ensuring republicanism is kept happy at all costs – including the cost of its own members morale and the organisation’s credibility in wider society.”

The Order claimed its officers have engaged with the PSNI, “regarding the deteriorating confidence our members and fellow Unionists have in their approach to our community”. “Sadly, to date such engagement has provided limited progress – yet one photograph of the Chief Constable posing with serving officers in Crossmaglen has produced an apology, a commissioned report, a press conference and 50 recommendations,” the statement said. “If the Chief Constable and his senior colleagues are serious about being representative of, and accountable to the community they police, then immediate and decisive steps must be taken to redress this obvious two-tier imbalance which threatens to completely undermine the traditional support for policing enjoyed from the Unionist community.”

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DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson. Credit: Jonathan Porter / Press Eye

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

Credit: Jonathan Porter / Press Eye

Sir Jeffrey has warned there needs to be an “urgent change of policy, or an urgent change of leadership” in the PSNI following controversy over the publication of a review of policing operations in south Armagh. But Sir Jeffrey also welcomed a commitment from chief constable Simon Byrne to rebuild confidence with the unionist community. In a bid to quell the backlash Mr Byrne said on Thursday that a number of recommendations from the report would not be taken forward, and stressed that memorials to murdered officers would not be removed from, or moved within operational police stations.

Mr Byrne has said he is committed to listening to unionist concerns and “rebuilding confidence” following controversy over the publication of a review of policing operations in south Armagh. “I accept the importance of ensuring that there is widespread confidence in policing across all parts of our community,” he said.  “I reaffirmed my commitment to listening to unionist community concerns and rebuilding confidence.
“We will continue with genuine engagement to ensure that local concerns and feedback are captured.” 

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Orange Order: South Armagh police report further ‘fuels allegations of two-tier policing’

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