Tarlach MacDhónaill is scathing of a PSNI scam in West Belfast.
Detective Superintendent Bobby Singleton was once literally a ‘Bobby’, patrolling the Lower Falls area of West Belfast and getting to know, no doubt, all the main names of the ‘underground’ world in that district.
In all likelihood then, the well-groomed PSNI golden boy knew full well, that none of those arrested in his old stomping ground on September 30th, (one of whom was charged with possession of a large amount of Cocaine) had any connection to the Irish National Liberation Army.
Yet Bobby Singleton now leads the PSNI’s ‘Paramilitary Crime Task Force’ which has been granted £25 Million over the period of five years as part of the Fresh Start Agreement, such figures demand results or at least the perception of results.
In a bizarre sequence of events on Tuesday last, charges against three Belfast men of ‘Conspiracy to rob a Boojum burrito bar’ were shot out of the sky by a Judge at first hearing due to the absence of that most basic Judicial requirement called evidence. One of the three was then remanded on a separate charge of possessing Cocaine with intent to supply. £140 000 worth of Cocaine.
The Irish Republican Socialist Party then released a statement in which they stated their belief that the PSNI had concocted a ‘sham charge’ against all three men and in so doing had dragged “two unconnected individuals into the dock, alongside a person separately charged with possession of Cocaine”, all in an attempt to create the impression of a collective conspiracy to supply Class A drugs in West Belfast.
In a PSNI press statement released on the morning of the arrests, Singleton had claimed that his force had been involved in an operation ‘focused on the criminal activities of the Belfast INLA.’ It succeeded in creating banner headlines and no doubt gave large sections of the public the general impression that the Belfast INLA was somehow and somewhere involved in the supply of Class A drugs.
Such an allegation would have had an obvious negative impact on the IRSP in West Belfast. Some weeks earlier their activists had made the front page of the local Andersonstown News for smashing a Cocaine supply operation in the same Divis area in which the latest Drug find in question had occurred.
Within that article, concerned parents of several local youths (victims of a predatory West Belfast drugs ring) claimed to have turned to the IRSP for help as they had (in their own words) ‘absolutely no faith’ in the PSNI.
The IRSP clearly believe now that Bobby Singleton has attempted to smear Republican Socialism in the Divis area by wrongly implicating the INLA in the very activity that the party were claiming to successfully oppose in the absence of local support for the PSNI – Drug dealing.
Their theory holds (at the very least) as much credence as the conspiracy charges which Singleton unsuccessfully tried to put before Judge Fiona Bagnall during his now doomed operation. The pressure which his ‘Paramilitary Crime Task Force’ no doubt comes under to be seen ‘balance the books’ following months of high-profile actions against Loyalist paramilitaries, gives further weight to IRSP suggestions that in the absence of genuine Republican ‘Paramilitary Crime’, Bobby Singleton has instead taken an ‘Any Taig will do’ attitude towards the latest wave of arrests and raids on their members houses and offices. Indeed, what better Taigs to raise headlines with than suspected supporters of the INLA?
It was highly unusual, indeed unheard of for any Judge to summarily dismiss allegations of the PSNI in a remand hearing allegedly involving Anti-Good Friday Republican ‘Paramilitaries’. It may indeed be the first case of its kind since 1998.
Yet the PSNI, until now, have relied upon both a compliant judiciary and a compliant press to create and promote narratives that they wish to be accepted in the public eye, the IRSP’s rebuffing of Bobby Singleton’s grandiose claims is unlikely to attract any mainstream press interest whatsoever and the IRSP will no doubt suffer negative public perceptions as a result.
Bobby Singleton is aware of this uneven power dynamic. He (and MI5 who command the Police service of which he is a part) is also aware of the growing support which a rejuvenated IRSP are gaining in communities such as Divis and the Lower Falls, the product of a wave of local, national and international political activities which the party has recently undertaken in what can be described as a ‘Peace Process’ of their own liking.
This is not the first time that the ‘Paramilitary Crime Task Force’ has used such broad stroke tactics against the Republican Socialist Movement. During the past year in both Derry and Belfast, targets of seemingly Bona Fide Policing operations have been arrested and had their homes searched simultaneously to members of the IRSP, with following far stretched press releases enough to brand the operations in questions “Investigations into the Criminal activities of the INLA”.
A modus operandi is being firmly established as are twin aims, the undermining of a political movement which the state has hated since its inception and (Just as importantly for Bobby Singleton) the public perception of a crack down on Irish Republicans, as opposed to ‘just Loyalists’.
Had the individual arrested for possession of Class A drugs been charged and remanded alone, it would have been viewed publicly as just another drug arrest in West Belfast. Yet a few more Catholics in the back of police cars, along with the right type of press briefings, were all that were needed to make this a political publicity coup for the ‘Paramilitary Crime Task Force’.
All the usual pieces of the Jigsaw were in place for Bobby Singleton in this instance. Wth the headline already floated by the Press, all that was required was the rubber stamping of a Judge and the appearance of an INLA criminal clampdown would be complete. In most cases the PSNI can rely on such rubber stamps without question.
Unfortunately for Bobby Singleton, it appears that a feisty female Belfast Judge had other ideas and put the requirement for evidence before the prominence of one department’s financial and political agenda.
Bullshit was called on the political antics of the Paramilitary Crime Task Force, and now inevitable questions around abuses of power, abuse of public funds, possible sectarianism and blatant lies told to the West Belfast community, will increasingly come to the fore.
➽Tarlach MacDhónaill is an activist with the North Belfast IRSP.
With many thanks to the: Anthony McIntyre and The Pensive Quill for the original posting.
THE RUC/PSNI has appointed Civica Digital, a division within Civica Group, to deliver the force’s new data sharing platform for an initial five-year period.
The RUC/PSNI ran an extensive procurement exercise to find a partner to design, build, support and provide services for the future development of a robust criminal justice data sharing (CJDS) solution, which is due to go live in November 2019.
Civica has designed the new system to support information sharing between numerous sources, including the RUC’s/PSNI’s case management systems, Causeway (the NI criminal justice data store) and the Police National Computer (PNC), joining together multiple pre-existing systems into a single streamlined integrated solution.
The new data-sharing platform should lead to a better structured and controlled information flow between the police, the Public Prosecution Service, prison and forensic science services, speeding up day-to-day processes and reducing errors.
The system also includes a set of operational management and self-monitoring tools which will allow the RUC/PSNI to rapidly view, track and rectify issues as soon as they occur.
Information held on the data sharing platform can be shared out via the PNC, linking data with the wider UK and European police data sharing platforms in one seamless transaction. Jeff McNamara, head of ICS at the PSNI said: “This new platform will streamline our processes and systems and drive more efficiency, and it is crucial at a time when budgets are continuously stretched, demands are becoming more complex and public expectations are changing.”
Mark Owens, (pictured above), managing director at Civica Digital Ireland, added: “This contract builds on our long-term partnership with the police service and follows a large body of work we’ve delivered through programmes such as NI Direct. We see it is a further endorsement of our strong digital credentials and presence in the region.” Civica Digital is a division of the Civica Group (www.civia.com).
With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story.
The PSNI has confirmed it has halted the sale of three border police stations as a “precautionary step” over Brexit.
The stations are Castlederg and Aughnacloy in County Tyrone and Warrenpoint in County Down.
All three had been “previously identified for disposal”.
Brexit has returned the Irish border to the centre of Anglo-Irish politics and it is still unclear what it will look like when the UK leaves the EU.
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BBC News NI previously reported that the sale of Warrenpoint station had been halted, and that it was believed Aughnacloy and Castlederg stations were also to be taken off the market.
This has now been confirmed by the PSNI.
“In light of the UK referendum vote to leave the EU, we are reviewing decisions we previously made about some of our stations identified for disposal,” Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said.
Newry, Mourne and Down Council wanted to buy the former Warrenpoint station
“Accordingly, it is our intention to pause the disposal of three stations in border areas, namely Warrenpoint, Castlederg and Aughnacloy.
“As the PSNI has not yet received details regarding potential border arrangements, this is a precautionary step to ensure that, whatever Brexit looks like in the future, we will be able to continue to keep our communities safe.”
Newry, Mourne and Down Council wanted to buy the former station in Warrenpoint, which went on the market in 2016.
The plan was to convert it into a community centre.
The UK and EU have both said they do not wish to see a hard border after Brexit, but they have not been able to agree on how to avoid checks on goods once the UK has left the customs union and single market.
If there is no Brexit deal it is likely customs officials will have to carry out the checks and it will be the job of the police to protect them.
The Chief Constable of the PSNI is to ask the government to fund the recruitment of up to 400 additional officers for operations along the border after Brexit.
With many thanks to: BBC News for the original story
Nine men are to stand trial in Belfast next year on terrorist-related offences arising from an M15 secret bugging operation.
All nine defendants appeared at Belfast Crown Court today, where they each denied charges dating back to 2014.
The terrorist charges – including membership of an proscribed organisation and conspiracy to possess firearms – are linked to a series of meetings held at a house in the Ardcarn Park area of Newry, which were recorded on listening devices hidden in the property.
A previous court hearing was told the recordings picked up suspected dissident republicans plotting to target police and members of the judicary over a period between August and November, 2014.
After each of the nine accused entered ‘not guilty’ pleas to all charges levelled against them, Mr Justice Colton was informed by a senior prosecutor that the trial is expected to last up to eight weeks, and a trial date of February 4, 2019 was set.
The Judge then told the nine defendants they were being released on continuing bail. They are:
Patrick Joseph Blair (62) from Lassara Heights in Warrenpoint. He has been charged with, and denies, 15 offences ranging from providing instruction or training in the making of an improvised explosive device to others, and membership of a proscribed organisation namely the IRA, to conspiracy to possessing explosives.
Seamus Morgan (62) from Barcroft Park in Newry, who faces a single charge of IRA membership between August and November, 2014
Colin Patrick Winters (47) from Ardcarn Park in Newry. Amongst the nine charges he faces is providing a property for the purposes of terrorism, received instruction or training in the making or use of explosives for terrorism, and conspiracy to possess explosives.
Joseph Matthew Lynch (77) from Hazel View in Belfast, who has been charged with 12 offences. These include IRA membership, engaging in the preparation of terrorist acts by attending a meeting at Ardcarn Park, and conspiring to possess firearms and ammunition.
Liam Hannaway (48) from White Rise in Dunmurry, who is being tried on 13 offences, including providing instruction or training in the making of an improvised explosive device to others, collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists, and conspiring to possess explosives with intent
John Sheeny (33) from Erskine Street in Newry, who has been charges with six offences. These include receiving training in the making or use of explosives for terrorism, IRA membership, and attending a place used for terrorist training.
Joseph Pearce (48) from Clogharevan Park in Bessbrook, is facing two counts of collecting information likely to be of use to terrorists
Kevin John Paul Heaney (44) of Blackstaff Mews in Belfast, who has been charged with belonging to the IRA between May 2013 and November 2014
Terence Marks (57) from Parkhead Crescent in Newry, who faces two counts, namely IRA membership between August and November 2014, and receiving terrorist training in October 2014.
With many thanks to: The Irish News for the origional story.
THE Police Ombudsman has rejected a complaint by a member of the public against a police officer who admitted threatening to shoot the complainant.
The man complained to the watchdog of “oppressive behaviour” towards him as he attempted to collect his son from a concert on the Boucher Road.
He at first tried to park in a closed-off slip road before attempting to turn into a lane blocked off by a police Land Rover.
He said the officer grabbed him by the arms and stuck his knuckles into his throat causing bruising under his chin which had been confirmed by the Mater Hospital.
However, ombudsman investigators, who interviewed the officer and took accounts from members of the public and other police officers, reviewed Body Worn (BWV) video footage of the incident and rejected the man’s complaint.
The officer denied any wrongdoing but admitted to threatening to shoot after the complainant had driven towards him. He said his actions were necessary due to the man’s “aggressive demeanour” and his failure to heed police instructions.
A report was also sent to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) which directed no prosecution of the officer.
With many thanks to: The Irish News for the origional story.
A HUMAN rights expert has voiced concern after the Policing Board said it was unable to renew the contract of a key advisor and admitted it can no longer fulfil its statutory obligations.
Former human rights adviser Alyson Kilpatrick, pictured above, left her post last month. Appointed in 2012, Ms Kilpatrick regularly provided expert legal opinion to the board and helped produce an annual human rights report. The policing board has a responsibility to monitor the performance of the RUC/PSNI in complying with the Human Rights Act. Human rights oversight is viewed as one of the most important functions on the board. A spokeswoman for the board has claimed it did not have the authority to renew Ms Kilpatrick’s contract.
Colin Harvey, Professor of Human Rights Law at Queens University, said it was a “very worrying development”. “Human rights guarantees remain central to the ongoing process of policing reform. The policing board has a vital role in monitoring the performance of the RUC/PSNI and in holding the chief constable to account.” The academic said a solution needs to be found. “This situation needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency to ensure that the board can continue to discharge its statutory responsibilities,” he said. “This is no time to be undermining the centrality of human rights to the work of the policing service here.”
In February this year senior board figures including chairwoman Anne Connolly were given delegated authority to take decisions across a range of areas following the collapse of the Stormont institutions. Political representatives were not appointed to take their places on the board after the March assembly elections due to the political deadlock, although independent members have continued to meet in privite. Former SDLP policing board member Dolores Kelly said if officials were concerned about being unable to renew Ms Kilpatrick’s contract, they should have written to party leaders and raised it through the media. “Did they ask the Department for Justice for any dispensation? If they did not have delegated authority, did they seek it?”she said.
Former Sinn Féin policing board member Gerry Kelly (pictued above) said ” a human rights-based approach to policing is at the core of the Patten recommendations and the setting up of the PSNI”. “The human rights adviser’s contract should have been exstended at this time as it is a crucial component to the effective working of the board,” he said. “The decision not to renew the contract should be reversed.” A spokeswoman for the policing board said: “As previously stated, in the absence of a fully constituted Policing Board, it was not possible to extend the appointment period of the human rights advisor as there was no authority to do so. “As previously advised, in February 2017 the then board approved a limited programme of work (as a temporary measure) that could be progressed by the independent members in the absence of a fully constituted board. “The appointment process to fill the human rights advisor role cannot be initiated until the board is again fully constituted.” “A spokesman for the RUC/PSNI said: “This is a matter for the North of Ireland Policing Board.”
With many thanks to: Connla Young The Irish News for the original story.
Follow these links for more information: https://www.nipolicingboard.org.uk/human-rights