Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein hit back at PSNI chief constable 'stalling peace process' comments

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, second from left, and Sinn Fein Policing Board member Gerry Kelly, centre (Liam McBurney/PA)
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, second from left, and Sinn Fein Policing Board member Gerry Kelly, centre (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn Fein has hit back at PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton after he claimed politicians are attempting to "shift the blame" for the "stalling" peace process in Northern Ireland.

The outgoing chief constable, in a speech at Queen's University, said he was disappointed by Northern Ireland politicians who sympathised in private, but then publicly claimed they had no confidence in policing.

He said: "I therefore find it disappointing when politicians from all parties give me tea and sympathy on the issue in private but in public talk of our failures in dealing with legacy and how this has created 'rock bottom confidence' in policing or partisan policing by only pursuing state actors... that is not effective accountability, that is point scoring - it is shifting the blame."

In response Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein's policing spokesman, said the party "will never shy away from challenging PSNI failings".

“Sinn Féin has always been entirely consistent with regards the legacy issue," the North Belfast MLA said.

"The bodies agreed by all parties at Stormont House should be implemented and the British Government should end the stalling tactics which have prevented this from happening.

“That is the position we have always taken, in private and in public, in our engagements with the PSNI."

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton ahead of the lecture ‘Reflections on Policing with the Community’ at Queen’s

Legacy mechanisms to investigate wrongdoing during the Troubles have not yet begun work and Stormont power-sharing has been suspended for more than two years.

Mr Hamilton also expressed frustration at the collapse of the Policing Board.

Mr Kelly added: “George Hamilton is right, the PSNI should not be investigating the past. After all, how could they do so independently?

"But the delays that are frustrating him stem from the British Government which, almost five years after the Stormont House Agreement, have still to bring forward the legislation giving effect to it.

“The PSNI Chief Constable should also know that while we agree with his position on policing legacy cases, Sinn Féin will never shy away from holding the PSNI to account and challenging them when they get things wrong.

“It is only a matter of weeks since the Police Ombudsman uncovered appalling failings in the PSNI’s handling of information disclosure relating to the Ormeau Bookies massacre and other atrocities carried out by death squads in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“Those failings are further evidence of the need for the Stormont House bodies to be implemented and that should happen immediately.”

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