Commenting, Mr Clarke said:
“The decision not to enforce the rule of law at this terrorist display - despite officers being aware of the likely threat - casts a dark shadow over the PSNI’s commitment to treating all communities and all crime in a fair and even-handed way. Once again, the police have failed to send a clear signal that anyone engaged in such activity will face the full rigour of the law.
I understand and respect legitimate concerns about placing officers in harm’s way. However, we need to dispel the myth that somehow our society is safer by allowing masked gunmen to operate freely in plain sight in a residential area without even as much as aerial surveillance or a robust evidence gathering operation. The Chief Constable needs to explain exactly why such criminal behaviour must be facilitated rather than rooted out.
The PSNI approach to this incident stands in stark contrast to the recent crackdown on those attending Protocol protests as well as the activities of street preachers. It would seem that when it comes to protecting freedom of speech or the right to protest, the PSNI is more willing to give latitude to republicans not because it is proportionate to do so but because it is convenient. Such an approach, regardless of whether it is conscious or unconscious, should have no role in policing in Northern Ireland.
There must be a tangible route for allegations of two-tier policing to be tested going forward. Under Section 60A of the Police Act, the Ombudsman can launch an investigation into a police practice or policy if he or she have reason to believe that it would be in the public interest. We feel it is imperative that she acts swiftly to restore public confidence by examining the proportionality and consistency of the police operation in Londonderry on 20 August.”