O’Neill in display of support for PSNI
O’Neill in display of support for PSNI


Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill has been criticised by republicans after attending a PSNI police graduation ceremony – despite the force’s ongoing involvement in collusion cover-ups and military-style raids in nationalist communities.

Ms O’Neill said her attendance at the PSNI graduation ceremony fulfilled her commitment to be a “First Minister for all” after she took the North’s top political job earlier this month.

Ms O’Neill was joined by Sinn Féin’s policing spokesperson, Gerry Kelly, and was greeted with a handshake by the new PSNI Chief Jon Boutcher.

Speaking at the event in Belfast, Ms O’Neill said she wanted to be there “because it is such an important time.” She also said she thought “it’s so important that our policing service reflects the diversity of our society that we have”.

“I became First Minister last Saturday. I said I would be a first minister for all and that includes these new constables who have graduated today,” she said.

It was also reported last week that the PSNI are providing Ms O’Neill and other Sinn Féin figures with bodyguards for the first time.

Sinn Féin has increasingly identified with the force since it first agreed to support the the PSNI in 2006 as a condition of entering government alongside the DUP, despite strong opposition from those who believe it has not changed since it was known as the RUC.

It is constantly criticised by human rights groups for its strategy of delaying inquests and other investigations into its crimes during the conflict. It also still carries out violent raids in republican areas, particularly in Derry, and still holds “planning” meetings with loyalist paramilitaries in a continuation of its policy of collusion. Opposed by almost all republican groups, meetings of its so-called ‘community partnership’ bodies are frequently subjected to picket by nationalists.

Former republican prisoner Anthony McIntyre said Ms O’Neill’s growing closeness to the PSNI showed Sinn Féin is becoming part of the establishment.

He claimed it is further evidence the party is “domesticated” because “the PSNI is still an armed British police force that is still up to its neck on covering up on the legacy question”.

Republican Sinn Féin said the move “comes as no surprise to genuine Irish Republicans as we have predicted this further abandonment of traditional Republican principles and objectives” since the two organisations split in 1986.

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