Sir Jeffrey Donaldson – “South Armagh policing report would make Patten blush”

DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP has described the South Armagh Policing Review as “the most politically naïve document to ever receive endorsement from a Chief Constable.”

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said,

“The recommendations in this report would make Patten blush. The end goal of this report is the creation of all-Ireland policing structures which would be politically unacceptable. They would require legislation and we will oppose such and actively veto the proposals if there is an attempt to push them through.

It is staggering that a Christmas Day tweet by the Chief Constable has become the catalyst for the latest round of politically motivated policing reforms in Northern Ireland. The Chief Constable is in real danger of completely undermining confidence in the impartiality of police, not only in South Armagh but across Northern Ireland. This would take two-tier policing to a whole new level.

All law-abiding citizens want to see better policing in South Armagh and will support steps to achieve such but that does not include sending officers, as per recommendation 43, for “local external training” so they have a better narrative of South Armagh. The next thing the Chief Constable will tell us the fuel smugglers are sponsoring the training facility.

Cooperation between policing in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is sensible but recommendation 45 is about much more than the hot pursuit of a hit and run driver or a fuel smuggler over the border for a few miles. It explicitly states hot pursuits “as a minimum”. What’s the maximum? Garda patrols in Newry?

The DUP believes in accountable policing, but our police officers should not be accountable to another country. The creation of a new all-Island body for policing, as per recommendation 46, would be politically unacceptable and would represent a serious violation of Northern Ireland’s sovereignty.

For a serving Chief Constable to put his name to a document which says “in the broader interests of progressing cultural change” a memorial for murdered officers should be placed in a back room, is highly insensitive and plain wrong. My cousin Samuel Donaldson (23) and Robert Millar (26) were the first RUC officers to be murdered by Republicans in the Troubles. They were blown up in Crossmaglen. Would Simon Byrne explain why he is embarrassed by their courage and sacrifice?

Finally, setting the policing concerns to one side, this is the most politically naïve document a Chief Constable has launched in my lifetime. At best it represents a shocking misapprehension of political sensitivities in Northern Ireland and a crass trespassing on to matters of the highest constitutional significance. I will be meeting the Chief Constable on Thursday and we will be demanding answers.”

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