Belfast Telegraph

Protecting people not for political point scoring: Police Federation hits back at Sinn Fein criticism

By Michael Shiels McNamee

The organisation which represents most of Northern Ireland's PSNI officers has hit back after Sinn Fein levelled criticism at police over a security operation in west Belfast.

The criticism relates to an alert in the Dunmurry area, which took place over four days.

A spokesperson from the Police Federation of Northern Ireland said: "Protecting people should not be the basis for political point scoring."

The search for a suspect device saw an area around Upper Dunmurry Lane closed from Saturday into Sunday, being closed on Sunday afternoon before resuming on Monday.

On Tuesday police announced an improvised weapon had been discovered which was intended to kill officers.

The security cordon resulted in people being evacuated from their homes and the closure of a primary school.

West Belfast MLA Orlaithi Flynn said she was set to meet with the PSNI chief inspector to raise "concerns" from local residents.

"While the blame for the disruption from this security alert lies first and foremost with those responsible for planting this device and we condemn their actions, there are concerns in the local area around the resulting policing operation," she said.

"The vast majority of people in west Belfast are opposed to the activities of whoever planted this device and they should not be punished as a result of their recklessness and lack of regard for the local community."

Sinn Fein was asked if it could specify the nature of the concerns to be raised with police. The party did not respond.

In a Tweet put out through the Police Federation of Northern Ireland page, a spokesperson for the representative body said it was "obvious that cordons are put in place to safeguard society" said the simple solution was "don't leave lethal devices".

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