Police Federation hits out at 'campaign of vilification'
The Police Federation has slammed what it called "a campaign of vilification" around an officer being blamed by loyalists for using CS spray at the Ormeau Road parade.
The officer has had his picture put out on social media, insulted for being red-headed and called a "paddy". He also had his name and address posted online.
The PSNI said it was aware of the potential threat against the officer in question.
Police Federation chairman Mark Lindsay condemned the actions of the individuals behind the campaign. The head of the body representing rank-and-file PSNI officers said revealing details of the policeman's name and address was of grave concern given the "severe" terrorist threat level.
"The comments posted on social media are scurrilous and despicable," he added. "There is an investigation under way by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and that is where this should be left.
"This type of trial by social media, where officers are readily identified in a photograph and their personal details are bandied freely on social networks, is reprehensible.
"All right-thinking people must condemn this anarchy by people who are baying not for facts, but for blood. They resort to dangerous words of incitement, foul abuse and undisguised hatred with little or no reliance on cold facts.
"There is no excuse or justification for this vicious stream of abuse aimed at an officer who was simply doing his duty in a challenging situation.
Mr Lindsay also called on public representatives not to inflame the situation. "Politicians have a responsibility here, and I would demand that they stop using police officers as a political football in the run up to the Assembly Election," he said.
"Officers deserve to be supported, not condemned for the demanding and dangerous job that they do. Politicians who did not witness what happened should desist from making inflammatory comments and instead take a more measured, objective position.
"Stand back and take a long, hard look at what you're saying, as your words can stir up community tensions and lead to street disorder, which we can do well without."