SF delegates abandon meeting over ‘political policing’ row

March 18, 2013

Sinn Fein members of the Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) walked out in protest from the group’s meeting in Newry and Mourne District Council offices on Monday last.

Taking a stand against the PSNI’s recent arrest of Dromintee republican and prominent Sinn Fein member, Sean Hughes, Councillor Mickey Ruane said Hughes’ ‘dubious’ arrest undermined a lot of the progress made in recent years and was ‘nothing short of political policing’.

As Chair of the PCSP, Councillor Ruane said: “As members of the Policing Committee we have a responsibility to build trust and confidence between our community and the PSNI.  We have been working hard on this project since 2007 and much progress has been made to date, particularly with PSNI officers who want to see change and provide a proper policing service for all of the community.  However, much of this good work has been totally undermined by a number of recent events in the Newry and Mourne area.

“The decision to arrest Seán Hughes on dubious grounds was nothing short of political policing.  To search his family home and confiscate his children’s mobile phones and computers was ill advised and needless.”

Referring to the Community Impact Statement, Mr Ruane says PCSP members are now seeking clarity from the Area Commander of the PSNI querying who was behind the decision to arrest Mr Hughes and search his home.

“The date on the search warrant was the 8th of January, yet the PSNI did not discharge it until the 27th Feb.  What was the rationale for waiting for almost two months?” he asked.

Describing the conduct of the PSNK at senior level as “unacceptable”, Councillor Ruane added, “It exudes memories of how the rule of law was subverted by state forces in the past.  This undermines the credibility of PCSP members and as an expression of our concern we feel it is necessary to publicly make a stand and demand off the PSNI answers to the questions, we and the community, feel must be answered.”