'Crisis Of Confidence' In PSNI...


'Crisis Of Confidence' In PSNI Among Nationalists - Michelle O'Neill


01:58 7 Feb 2021

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A policing operation which saw a Troubles survivor being arrested at a memorial event has caused a nationalist crisis of confidence in policing, Michelle O'Neill said.

The deputy First Minister said there is a "double standard" within the PSNI.

It comes as a PSNI officer has been suspended and another redeployed after Friday's event in Belfast.

Footage of angry scenes at the anniversary ceremony for five people killed in a 1992 loyalist massacre has been circulating widely online.

On Friday, 29 years after he was shot seven times in the Sean Graham Bookies' attack, Mark Sykes went to lay flowers at the scene.

But as he stood with the families of five others killed in the 1992 mass shooting on the Ormeau Road, PSNI officers moved in to move the crowd along, and a bitter row broke out.

Sykes was arrested, he says, after being warned not to swear. He was released on Friday evening.

Mr Sykes later told the Irish News: "They have...literally rubbed the steel of their handcuffs as salt in my physical wounds."

Last night, the Chief Constable Simon Byrne said police body camera footage shows what happened "was not reflective of the values" of the PSNI.

But he said there was no attempt to shut down the commemoration.

One officer is now suspended and another has been transferred to other duties.

An investigation by the North's police ombudsman is continuing.

Speaking on BBC Northern Ireland’s Sunday Politics show today, Michelle O'Neill said it was now up to the Chief Constable "to demonstrate that he will hold people to account and let us all see that in action".

She compared the scenes on Friday with police’s failure to make arrests earlier in the week when a large crowd of masked men congregated in east Belfast in an apparent paramilitary display of strength.

“I think that the direct contrast in policing is laid bare for all to see and I think anybody who considers all those things in the round would understand that there certainly is a crisis of confidence in policing among the nationalist community,” she said.

“There appears to be a double standard within the policing service, there appears to be an ethos or culture that turns a blind eye to UDA, UVF thugs on the street, but at the same time a disproportionate attempt to target nationalist communities.”

Additional reporting by Stephen Bourke

Main image: Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill during a press conference outside the Stormont Parliament Buildings in Belfast. Picture by: Liam McBurney/PA Wire/PA Images

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Belfast Memorial Event Michelle O'Neill PSNI Simon Byrne

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