The Chief Constable Simon Byrne has told Boris Johnson the PSNI will not police any customs checkpoints on the Northern Ireland border after Brexit.
Mr Byrne had a 30 minute video call with the prime minister last Friday.
He also told Mr Johnson he had “no plans to put police officers on any one of 300 crossings” along the border.
Speaking after a meeting of the policing board in Belfast, Mr Byrne said the PSNI does not want “to be dragged into another type of policing”.
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The prime minister submitted his Brexit offer to the EU on Wednesday .
It would see the North of Ireland to stay in the European single market for goods, but leave the customs union – resulting in new customs checks.
The PM’s Brexit plan also set out details of a replacement for the Irish border “backstop” in the current Brexit agreement.
The backstop is the controversial “insurance policy” that is meant to keep a free-flowing border on the island of Ireland but which critics – including the PM – fear could trap the UK in EU trading rules indefinitely.
Under Mr Johnson’s proposals, customs checks on goods traded between the UK and EU would be “decentralised”, with paperwork submitted electronically and only a “very small number” of physical checks
These checks should take place away from the border itself, at business premises or at “other points in the supply chain”
The chief constable has taken legal advice on what he can be asked to do.
He did state, however, that the PSNI would be obliged to support customs or border force staff if they found themselves under risk of attack.
Mr Byrne added he did not want “to interfere in negotiations” involving Mr Johnson and the European Union (EU).
Last year, the PSNI was given money to hire 180 extra officers to help prepare for Brexit .
It now wants government funding for 300 more officers next year, as part of a push towards eventually achieving a police service comprised of 7,500.
Officer numbers are currently around 6,800.
The policing board is fully supportive of the PSNI’s request for increased manpower.
Withmany thanks to: BBCNews and Julian O’Neill BBCNEWS NI Home Affairs Correspondent for the original story
A man who narrowly escaped death in the Loughinisland massacre has asked to meet with a UUP council candidate after a suspect in the loyalist atrocity was pictured helping put up his election posters.
Ulster Unionist Alan Lewis said he did “not wish to comment” on the photograph of Ronnie Hawthorn, who was named by a major documentary in connection with the 1994 attack, erecting his posters close to the south Down village.
A former member of Ukip, Mr Lewis is running as a candidate in the Slieve Croob area of Newry, Mourne and Down council in next month’s local government elections.
Hawthorn was named in No Stone Unturned as a suspected member of the UVF gang said to have been responsible for the attack on the Heights Bar in Loughinisland, when six men were shot dead while watching a World Cup match.
He has described the allegations in the film as “unfounded” and said it represented “a speculative, reckless, and irresponsible attempt at an expose, which now is the subject of a police investigation”.
Hawthorn was pictured erecting posters in support of Mr Lewis in a move described as a “distressing and hurtful” by one of the survivors of the Loughinisland attack.
Aidan O’Toole, who was seriously injured while working behind the bar, said he was “saddened” when he heard the news.
“This is such a small community and when something like this happens news gets around very quickly. I’ve spoken to other victims’ families who are just as devastated as I am by this news,” he said.
“Does Alan Lewis realise how insensitive this is and how retraumatising it is for us as victims?
“I still have my good days and bad days – things like this can be a real set back for us all.
“I wonder has Mr Lewis even bothered to watch No Stone Unturned, and would he maybe like to take the time to meet the families so we can explain to him at first hand the hurt his association with Hawthorn is causing us all.”
When contacted by The Irish News, Mr Lewis – who describes himself as a ‘Victims Advocacy Officer’ – said he had put his own posters up along with his wife, before saying he “didn’t want to comment”.
The Irish News also contacted Ronnie Hawthorn and the UUP for comment but they did not respond.
Two journalists, Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey, were arrested by police in relation to documents used in the making No Stone Unturned, which named a number of suspects including Hawthorn.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Allison Morris for the original story
THERE’S an old proverb about the road to hell being paved with good intentions.
And friends of mine have occasionally tried to explain away unionism’s vice-like grip on the first 50 years of the North of Ireland by quoting it. They claim the unionist government which oversaw the North of Ireland always planned to do better, but never quite got there. There’s no doubt that in 1921 after the partition of Ireland was complete, unionist leaders had a chance to create a northern state where few Catholics would have opted to join the newly-formed 26 County Free State.
But religious bigotry at the heart of at the heart of the Stormont regime meant that opportunity was passed over. And instead unionism firmly pulled the shutters down tight. It viewed every Catholic citizen with suspicion. Unionist Party leaders ignored the parting advice of Sir Edward Carson – the public face of unionism – to be kind to the minority. And although not publicly acknowledged, some unionist establishment figures even gave the green light to loyalist gunmen to wage a war of attrition against Catholics. Pogroms were terrifying and real, with hundreds losing their lives as the contrived state of the North of Ireland became a political reality. A semi-secret plan was hatched where police officers like the infamous DI Nixon were allowed to run their own murder gangs. Their intention was to grind Catholics into submission and force them to accept that they now lived in a place where only those loyal to Britain ruled the roost. Rejecting unionist offers of top police jobs abroad. Nixon eventually quit the RUC to become an Independent Unionist MP.
And until the day he died, he repeatedly threatened to expose fellow unionist politicians’ involvement in violence at the foundation of the state. Eventually many Catholics accepted their diminished status and kept their heads down. Occasional IRA attacks in the north and in England posed no threat to the northern state. But the 1947 Education Act – forced on unionist by the British government – created an articulate Catholic middle class no longer willing to accept the status quo.
In 1967, along with other interested groups – including the remnants of the Irish Republican Movement – these people formed the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. The organisation had the stated aim of replacing unionist discrimination in jobs, housing and voting rights with British liberal values. It was well received in Ireland and also in the rest of the UK, where people were shocked to learn that the North of Ireland citizens hadn’t the same rights as them. The North of Ireland Prime Minister Captain Terence O’Neill (who the unionist claimed was a Lundy) – steeped in the unionist landed gentry – knew in his heart that if the union was to survive, then things needed to change. But a rabble-rousing fundamentalist preacher called Ian Paisley – who led his own Free Presbyterian Church – had other ideas. He had an ability to tap into ancient Protestant fears and suspicions. And he helped form a series of new loyalist paramilitary organisations opposed to any reforms proposed by O’Neill. Paisley was following in the footsteps of his close friend and hero DI Nixon, a police officer turned politician who had terrorised Catholics at the foundation of the state. Much of Paisley’s involvement with the reconstituted Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was denied because the authorities feared the clergyman’s Svengali-like powers. But this week – in the first of a new seven part series of TV programmes to mark the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Troubles – Paisley’s real role in the violence is exposed.
Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History goes out simultaneously on BBC Northern and BBC4 on Tuesday night. Using first-hand testimony of individuals who were around at the time, reporter Darragh McIntyre reveals how Ian Paisley personally financed the UVF bombing of a water pipe line at the Silent Valley Reservoir near Kilkeel in April 1969. Paisley and his cohorts attempted to give the impression that the explosion, coming as it did months before serious violence erupted on the streets of Derry and Belfast, was the work of the practically moribund IRA. But a retired senior British Army officer, drafted in to examine the aftermath of the bomb, told MacIntyre his suspensions were raised as soon as he saw the bomb site. “This just didn’t have the look of an IRA bomb,” he said. And he went on to claim that a senior RUC officer in Killkeel showed him intelligence reports which revealed the entire operation had been financed by Paisley.
As Paisley’s UVF mates were bombing the place, a young butcher’s apprentice by the name of Martin McGuinness was about to quit his job to assume the role of 2nd in Command of the Provisional IRA in Derry.
In newly emerged footage, McGuinness is filmed overseeing an IRA bomb being loaded into the boot of a car. McGuinness sits in the passenger seat and, minutes later, it is transported to Derry city centre and detonated. And in another remarkable clip, McGuinness instructs children on how to load bullets into a revolver.
It is almost beyond belief that 3,500 deaths later, these two men were sworn into office as the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in a new devolved administration at Stormont. But they also became close personal friends.
In an astonishing revelation near the end of the first programme, MacIntyre reveals written details of a top secret report by Sir Michael Carver, the most senior officer in the British Army. In the report, Carver advises the British government to consider an alternative strategy which doesn’t demand maintaining the North of Ireland border by military means, (what Brexit will mean).I.e. British withdrawal.
Spotlight editor Jeremy Adams say he’s proud his talented team of investigative reporters consisting of McIntyre, Jennifer O’Leary and Mandy McAuley, have been able to uncover new findings relating to the history of the Troubles. “This past has shaped our present and it’s vitally important that truths continue to be told,” he said. I’m in no doubt that this body of work from the awarding-winning BBC Spotlight team will become the definitive television history of the Troubles. This series of programmes – which uncovers much previously unknown material – is informative, revealing, shocking and at times very, very moving. It was an enormous undertaking for the reporters and filmmakers involved, but once again, BBC Spotlight comes through with flying colours. Don’t miss it.
Follow these links to find out more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11313364
A man has been rushed to hospital after a paramilitary-style shooting in Belfast this evening.
Emergency services were called to Monagh Road, in the west of the city , at 9.25pm on Friday night, September 6.
A 27-year-old man was shot in the leg and taken to hospital. His condition is not known at this time.
Inspector James Murphy said: “At approximately 9.25pm this evening, we received a report that a 27-year-old man had been shot in the leg. He has been taken to hospital.
“This is a cowardly, despicable act that was carried out in a built up area. The perpetrator, or perpetrators, do not care for either the victim or the people who live in close proximity to where this incident happened.
“I would appeal for anyone who witnessed this incident or anyone who has information to contact detectives at Musgrave on 101 quoting ref 2168 06/09/19.”
With many thanks to: Belfast Live and Sarah Scott for the original story