Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

PSNI set up checkpoint on wrong side of border

PSNI officers almost sparked a diplomatic row when they accidentally crossed the border and set up a checkpoint in the Republic.

Completely oblivious to the fact they were in the wrong jurisdiction, where they have absolutely no policing powers, the unsuspecting officers crossed the border at Belleek in Co Fermanagh and began patrolling and stopping cars in the village of Clyhore in Co Donegal last week.

They may have just been less than 100 yards into the Republic, but their slight error in geographic judgement ruffled a few feathers, with Bundoran Sinn Fein councillor Mick McMahon insisting that he would “make a complaint about this incursion” with the Assembly at Stormont and at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin.

“It is unacceptable that such activity could be taking place.

“If the checkpoint were operated by an all-Ireland police force, that would be a different matter and Sinn Féin would have no problem,” Mr McMahon said.

The PSNI said the officers immediately withdrew from the area when they were made aware they had crossed the border.

They said the officers involved were not familiar with the Fermanagh/Donegal border area.

But Sinn Fein councillor for Erne West Stephen Huggett said: “The police are supposed to know a lot of things but they don’t seem to know when they’ve crossed over the border.”

The District Policing Partnership member added: “I know the PSNI and the Garda cooperate but one of the reasons they tell us they can’t police Belleek and Clyhore together is because there is no easy way of travelling between the two villages — but it seems to be easy enough when they get the notion.

“I’m surprised these officers are not being briefed about the exact geography of the area they are policing.”

Cllr Huggett’s party colleague, councillor Phil Flanagan, was equally unimpressed by the blunder and has demanded disciplinary action against the wandering officers.

During a conference recently about cross border co-operation Chief Constable Matt Baggott said he knows he has crossed the border when his mobile phone provider updates him — so maybe his officers should switch to his network to avoid any further geographical faux-pas.

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