A high-profile police operation to clamp down on a surge of racist attacks was given the same name as a notorious slogan widely used by white supremacists, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
The highly embarrassing blunder saw a specialist police unit codenamed 'Orion' – an acronym used by the Ku Klux Klan, which stands for 'our race is our nation'.
It is also used by other neo-Nazi groups throughout Europe to suggest white people are 'one nation', opposed to and superior to all other races.
The Canadian white supremacist group Heritage Front also uses the slogan as its motto.
Operation Orion was launched by the PSNI after a spate of attacks on foreign nationals throughout Northern Ireland, the majority of which took place in Belfast.
Police have now moved to change the name to Operation Reiner.
A police spokesman insisted: "This operation was originally named Op Orion. However, we then established that there is a company in Belfast by this name, so to avoid confusion the operation name was changed to Operation Reiner."
Operational names are selected at random from computer-generated lists.
A member of the Policing Board, which holds the organisation to account, said more care had to be taken by the force to ensure such errors do not occur.
DUP MLA David McIlveen said: "I'm quite sure that any mistakes around this issue are completely unintentional. However, when it comes to creating titles for any policing operation it would be helpful for the PSNI to do a bit more research into the titles attached to these operations.
"The public are slightly bemused in general by the so-called creative operational names being used by police for various operations. The PSNI can maybe learn a lesson from this, that rather than concentrate on titles for operations, concentrate on the operations themselves and taking thugs off the streets."
Operation Orion was launched after race hate attacks soared by 40% in the past year.
Police arrested three people in the Castlereagh area yesterday as part of their investigations into the attacks. During searches, officers recovered a firearm, ammunition and a small quantity of suspected drugs.
Two men, aged 43 and 41, and a 41-year-old woman were arrested under the Terrorism Act.
A DUP delegation led by First Minister Peter Robinson met with the Honorary Polish Consul Jerome Mullan and Eva Grosman, founder of Polish Cultural Week in Northern Ireland, yesterday.
Afterwards Mr Robinson said: "I am resolute, irrespective of where attacks emanate, that I will not equivocate in my condemnation, including attacks carried out by those associated with the UVF."
The Ku Klux Klan uses the slogan 'our race is our nation' – or ORION for short – to suggest their allegiance is to their race, above their country.
There is also a group, based in Alabama known as the Orion Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The PSNI set up a unit to tackle racism in recent weeks which was code-named Operation Orion.