Belfast Telegraph

Pride not an event the PSNI should support, DUP man says in letter to police boss

By Stewart Robson

A DUP councillor has written an open letter to the Chief Constable outlining concerns regarding the PSNI's involvement in this year's Pride parade.

Alderman John Finlay, who sits on Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, wrote and sent the letter to George Hamilton asking for a personal response.

Mr Finlay wrote another letter to the Chief Constable last year expressing his "alarm and disgust" at their involvement for the first time in the parade.

This year's Pride event drew tens of thousands of people to Belfast city centre, displaying support for the LGBTQ+ community.

But Mr Finlay, who last week wrote another letter calling for councillors to back suspended North Antrim MP Ian Paisley, expressed his "deep-seated concerns" at the PSNI "openly promoting and supporting any particular cause".

Mr Finlay also said he "felt it entirely inappropriate" for the PSNI to "formally identify itself with a particular agenda".

He said in the letter: "The rationale for such involvement as set out by the PSNI last year was that the LGBT community suffers a disproportionate number of hate crime attacks and also to reflect the diversity of the police's workforce.

"However, neither of those criteria justify PSNI involvement.

"As I said in a recent statement, the job of any police service is to act with impartiality towards all members of society.

"It is not the role of the PSNI to be openly promoting and supporting any particular cause.

"However, this year once again uniformed PSNI officers took part in the Belfast Pride parade on Saturday past.

"Despite all the adulation from the public and private sectors for 'Pride', this is not a non-contentious event.

"To many of us it is provocative and offensive."

Mr Finlay also questioned whether an image of former DUP whip Jim Wells on a sign which stated 'F*** the DUP', was classified as a hate crime.

Security staff tried to remove the sign from a campaigner during the parade.

He added: "Apart from my deep-seated concerns about PSNI involvement, I write to specifically raise the issue of an extremely provocative and hate-filled poster carried by a person in Saturday's parade which said 'F*** the DUP' and featured several photos of Mr Jim Wells MLA.

"Attempts were made by security to remove the poster but these appear to have been unsuccessful, and the poster carrier was loudly cheered as she held aloft her damaged poster."

The PSNI said: "The PSNI can confirm that it has received a complaint from Alderman John Finlay.

"The matter is currently under consideration and a response will be provided to Mr Finlay in due course."

Police have also confirmed that they received one report from last week's event and that it is currently under consideration.

They did not say whether the case in question was related to the sign.

Belfast Telegraph

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