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Bobby Storey funeral had ‘profound implications’ on public confidence in policing, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson tells Chief Constable in appeal of Twelfth approach


A DUP delegation met with PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne at Stormont.

A DUP delegation met with PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne at Stormont.

A DUP delegation met with PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne at Stormont.

New DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP has told PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne that he must re-engage with unionist communities following the fallout of the Bobby Storey funeral as he called for a “calm and common” sense approach to policing over the Twelfth.

Last June’s funeral of the IRA man attracted 2,000 mourners at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, breaching strict health and safety regulations.

A watchdog report into the PSNI's handling of the funeral found that police prioritised public security over enforcement of Covid regulations, but did not show any bias.

The PSNI’s failure to enforce the regulations outraged unionist politicians and members of the loyalist community.

Sir Jeffrey met with the Chief Constable on Thursday at Stormont, along with a DUP delegation including the party’s deputy leader Paula Bradley and First Minister Paul Givan.

Sir Jeffrey said he stressed the need for a “calm and common sense policing approach” during the annual Twelfth celebrations

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He stated that the PSNI’s handling of the Storey funeral added to the “growing belief” that the rule of law is not being applied equally.

“Within unionist and loyalist communities’ concerns about two-tier policing are not only legitimate but widespread,” stated Sir Jeffrey.

“I made it clear to Simon Byrne that the PSNI must meaningfully re-engage those who have become disillusioned over recent months.

“The PSNI approach to protests against the protocol must be even-handed and communication with key stakeholders must be better.

“He will ultimately be judged not by mere words or good intentions but by tangible differences in the tone and style of policing toward members of the community.”

Sir Jeffrey also raised the “underrepresentation” of working-class Protestants within the PSNI workforce and said more accessible routes to a career in policing must be provided.

Meanwhile, the Policing Board received a recommendation to permanently close Crossmaglen PSNI station in south Armagh because of the prohibitive cost of running it.

Sir Jeffrey expressed his concern over the review which was “instigated at the behest of nationalists”.

“We have been clear from the start that this type of knee-jerk reaction is no way to make strategic and far-reaching decisions and DUP Policing Board representatives will continue to press for a more balanced outcome going forward,” he added.

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