Belfast Telegraph

As thin green line gets thinner, we all have a part to play

By Brian Rowan

There are a number of themes that have been a constant thread in George Hamilton's policing commentary during the past year.

Money is tighter and budgets are going to become more squeezed and so there is this tug-of-war between past and present.

Today and tomorrow are Hamilton's policing priority - the here and now.

He made that clear in a keynote speech to the British/Irish Association last September and he makes the point again in the piece he has written for this newspaper.

He wants the past out of today's policing and wants the Stormont House Agreement implemented, including the new Historical Investigations Unit, or HIU. The man who now holds the most senior rank within the PSNI means it when he says it will be "a huge mistake" to stall on the implementation of what was agreed in talks last Christmas.

He wants to place the police 'vault' and its millions of documents into some structured and formalised process on the past.

And the sooner that happens for today's policing, the better.

For as long as those protected files and intelligence documents remain the property of the PSNI, so a chunk of new policing will be identified with old-style policing and the secrets and wrongs of that period.

Opening the vault will of course open the past into a much wider examination - not just of police and Army, but republicans and loyalists. Hamilton also mentions the dissident threat and his concerns about parades as this place now strides towards the biggest marching day of the summer.

A Parades Commission determination is expected later this week on the July 12 north Belfast parade, which has been stuck in the marching mud on that Woodvale/Ardoyne interface for the past two years.

There is nothing to suggest local agreement, which means the policing of another ruling by the Parades Commission.

Dissident republicans know the PSNI routine and have been behind a series of attacks on police in the past year.

This is the danger in the standoff. It is not just about one day of marching, but the year-long implications of that deadlock.

Parading and the past are not just about the police. And this Hamilton article a year after he took up the position of Chief Constable is pointing to others and to the parts they have to play.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph