Tánaiste Must Become Proactive on Policing Reform as the PSNI goes into Melt Down. – Tóibín
Aontú leader and Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has called on the Tánaiste Mícheal Martin to stop standing idly by as the PSNI goes into meltdown in the north of Ireland. An Teachta Tóibín stated:
“The PSNI is in major crisis. Dangerous incompetency has led to the private details of 10,000 officers being published putting lives and safety in significant danger. Drug crime is spiralling throughout the North. And the PSNI is still seen in many nationalist areas as a deeply political and partisan force. This is in large part behind the current crisis surrounding the two PSNI officers who have been disciplined and the subsequent court case determination which stated that there was a political reason for this action.
A recent review on policing in south Armagh admitted that policing was militaristic in this predominantly nationalist area. Heavy handed and militaristic pollicising is the experience of many people in nationalist areas. Its is 23 years since the Patten Report was published and still the PSNI is not representative of the people of the north. Currently, only 31% of PSNI members are Catholics. Catholic representation among senior levels of the PSNI is even less representative of the population and recruitment of Catholics to the civilian staff is also incredibly low.
The resignation of Chief Constable Simon Byrne will not go to the heart of the problem. The difficulties of the PSNI go far deeper. There needs to be root and branch reform. This current debacle is the right time to carry this reform out. We in Aontú demand as part of a reform package the reinstatement of 50/50 recruitment, the establishment of a joint Irish/British Inspectorate and the removal of MI5 from policing. The parties of the Assembly including SF and the SDLP have continuously promised change in policing. This has not happened. We demand a complete overhaul of policing now in order to build a safe society based on equality and a shared future.
The Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement extended an invite on my request to the Chief Constable to attend the committee and answer questions about the crisis in policing. Simon Byrne refused that invite then. I am calling for the Committee to reissue that invite in view of the current disaster.
Much of this problem is also down to the political vacuum that exists. There is no Minister for Justice. Indeed if a new Chief Constable were to be nominated by the Policing Board there would be no Minister for Justice in place to accept that nomination as is necessary under the law. The two governments are guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. Yet they appear to be sitting on the side-lines. Chris Heaton Harris is like an absentee landlord of old and Mícheál Martin is silent on the issue.