A huge number of PSNI police are signed-up members of sectarian Protestant or Masonic groups, it has emerged.
According to an investigation by the Detail website, the North’s police force employs close to 400 members who are involved in secretive organisations such as the Orange Order and the Freemasons.
Since 2001, members of the PSNI are supposed to register their associations with organisations which “might reasonably be regarded as affecting the officer’s ability to discharge their duties effectively and impartially”.
According to official figures, at least 168 are members of openly sectarian organisations – the Orange Order, the Royal Black Preceptory, the Apprentice Boys of Derry and the Independent Orange Order.
There are at least 156 PSNI members of the Freemasons, the world’s largest secret society. This includes a Chief Superintendent, one of the 23 most senior Crown Force figures in the Six Counties.
A further 52 PSNI members have also been recorded as being in “notifiable” organisations, the names of which remain secret.
An unknown number have refused to admit the groups they are involved with.
The Detail accessed the data on officers’ membership of notifiable organisations through submitting a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to the PSNI.
The issue of police links to some of the most bitterly anti-Catholic organisations in the north of Ireland has been a controversial issue for decades.
Historical documents which were declassified in 2016 revealed current Conservative MP, Andrew MacKay, fearing that a masonic conspiracy to discredit the late English police chief and collusion investigator John Stalker could be exposed.