Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

The PSNI must be free to do its job

It appeared that Sinn Fein was attempting to row back from some of the more vitriolic rhetoric directed at the PSNI over the arrest and questioning of Gerry Adams.

The Sinn Fein president said on his release that he supported the police — Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness had earlier hinted of a possible rethink on the party's position on policing, which we now know would have deepened the rift between Sinn Fein and DUP.

But as our story today reveals, the party still harbours deep resentment over the issue and blames one man — ACC Drew Harris — for Mr Adams' detention.

There are concerns that this experienced officer could face serious pressures in his future career, including potential blocking of his prospects to become the next Deputy Chief Constable. Mr Harris was the man who signed the order for Mr Adams' arrest, as befits his role as head of the Crime Operations branch of the PSNI.

He is a police officer with 30 years of experience and it was proper that a person of that standing should have been involved in making the decision on whether or not to arrest the Sinn Fein president.

If Sinn Fein has any concerns about the whole episode there are readily available grounds for investigation and, if necessary, redress, through the Police Ombudsman, the Policing Board and the Human Rights Commissioner.

Mr Adams has the same rights as any other citizen, but no greater rights. Indeed, the police would have been remiss if they had not acted on the evidence before them, whether that leads to a prosecution or not.

Sinn Fein is often keen to allege political motivation in policing. If the party was to interfere in the career of Mr Harris, that would be political interference in policing and would be wrong.

The PSNI, including Mr Harris, must be free to do its job, which is among the most highly scrutinised in western Europe.

Hard-working immigrants stand in contrast to thugs

It was quite revealing when journalists went to interview the latest victims of hate crime in east Belfast yesterday.

Racist thugs broke windows in the property and also smashed the windscreen of a car parked outside. Yet a woman who had been in the property was out at work as usual. Her son could not go to his job because his car could not be driven.

These are two immigrants who are contributing to society here.

They are obviously hard-working and want to make better lives for themselves in this country. Yet they are the innocent targets of vicious thugs who contribute nothing to this community except to blacken the image of Northern Ireland throughout the world. Who would you rather have living next door?