A blind eye on PSNI incident
A blind eye on PSNI incident

Nationalist politicians last night epxressed anger over news that a PSNI police officer who drove an armoured Land Rover at a crowd of Catholics will not be prosecuted.

The incident, which happened during disturbances in the Short Strand area in May 2002, was caught on British army video and showed the vehicle mount a footpath and accelerate towards nationalist residents.

A report by the Police Ombudsman found that the driver of the vehicle had “clearly put these individuals at serious risk”.

However, the officer responsible escaped possible prosecution because the markings on the Land Rover allegedly could not be identified.

Sinn Féin Representative for East Belfast Joe O’Donnell said the development showed clearly that ‘the canteen culture of secrecy and cover-up was alive and well’.

He said it was “no surprise to those of us who experienced their policing of this area during the disturbances two summers ago.

“This is a further demonstration that the ‘canteen culture’ of concealment and cover-up is alive and well within the ranks of the PSNI. This revelation raises many questions for those who continue to provide support and political cover for this force and its Chief Hugh Orde The SDLP in particular can no longer continue to run away from these issues.

“They tell us that accountability and transparency are now paramount. Yet time and again we see instances where the PSNI deliberately and consciously engages in cover up. We have seen it with collusion and with the murders of Roaseanne Mallon and Pearse Jordan and now we see it with this case in the Short Strand.

“ The SDLP and others should stop living in denial and should recognise what the majority of nationalists in the six counties believe, that what passes for policing here is not an acceptable or accountable policing service. Instead of providing support for a Hugh Orde charm offensive they should join with the rest of us in demanding the fundamental policing changes which are required.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News