The head of the PSNI police in Derry and Strabane has been criticised by councillors after he refused to attend a meeting to discuss anger at sectarian and political policing in the area.
The council had accepted a proposal that the local PSNI commander, Darrin Jones, meet the authority to discuss recent events, including a highly violent operation in Derry’s Creggan area against republican activists, and the near-fatal shooting of a vulnerable man inside his own home.
Saoradh activists, who have taken the brunt of the Crown Force raids and searches, had criticised the council for remaining silent in the face of a relentless campaign of harassment.
A series of assaults on the family of one recently imprisoned activist is believed to have helped motivate the meeting between the council and local PSNI. However, in a letter to the council’s chief executive a day before the scheduled event, the force’s district commander rejected the invitation.
A PSNI spokesperson confirmed that that Jones would not attend, insisting the district policing partnership was a “more appropriate” body for such discussions.
Aontú councillor Emmet Doyle, who made the original proposal, said he was “furious” that a public servant should believe they had the power to decide whether or not they should be accountable to public representatives.
“In the last few weeks a man has been shot and other civilians have been manhandled by officers. Their refusal to attend is self-defeating and unacceptable. While they may cite the accountable measures in place for the PSNI, it seems that their direct accountability is not an option.”
He also condemned the late notification of the decision not to attend, which was also criticised by the SDLP, Sinn Féin, People Before Profit and the DUP. A fresh proposal from Mr Doyle that another request be sent to the PSNI was passed by the council.
Saoradh scorned those councillors who had promised they would hold the PSNI accountable.
“As predicted, the local Crown Force leaders have rebuffed the ‘invitation’ to appear before council. This only highlights the fact that despite constitutional Nationalists and former Republicans acting as recruiting sergeants and cheerleaders for the Crown Forces in the Occupied Six Counties, they aren’t answerable to anyone.
“They follow on from the RUC mantra of doing what they want, where they want, when they want and to whoever they want.”