The Ulster Unionist Party’s Policing spokesperson, Mike Nesbitt MLA, has called on the PSNI to review the nature of its relationship with Sinn Fein, following the findings of the HMIC review into the handling of the funeral of Bobby Storey.
Mike Nesbitt said:
“The reality is there have been no winners from this entire process. I welcome confirmation that the PSNI made mistakes.
“Matt Parr agreed with my view that it would have been best practice for the PSNI to respond in writing when Gerry Kelly sent them the plan for the funeral. The fact there was no written response is deeply concerning that there is no proof of what was – or was not - discussed, requested, offered or agreed.
“The PSNI clearly have major questions to answer, especially re the ‘degree of informality’ in discussions with funeral organisers.
“We also need to properly address the question of whether PSNI were more concerned with paramilitary symbols than actual funeral numbers. In fact, the PSNI’s priorities were 1. No disorder 2. No trappings 3. No serious breaches of regulations.
“This was clearly a major failing. It is hard not to conclude that once the PSNI secured a verbal assurance there would be no gloves and beret on the coffin or volley of shots, they surrendered control of the streets of west Belfast to the Republican Movement. As proof, look no further than confirmation the request for air support to monitor crowds was declined ‘because it could cause disorder.’
“Whilst we await the conclusion of the PPS review, it’s already clear that the PSNI at senior level must review the nature of the relationship with Sinn Fein and by extension, the wider ‘Republican Movement.’”