Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:
“Following the PSNI’s participation in the anti-British St Patrick’s Day parade in New York I wrote to the Chief Constable asking why a police service from the UK officially participated in a parade behind a banner which proclaimed “England Get Out of Ireland”.
“I know from contacts to my office that many people found the PSNI participation in an event which peddled this racist and xenophobic message deeply offensive. This is hardly surprising given that the “Brits Out” mantra was championed by the IRA which murdered so many gallant officers in Northern Ireland.
“Indeed many Unionists will see the banners as an attack on their right to live in Northern Ireland as they more than suggest that the island of Ireland is only for those who see themselves as Irish – an ironic sentiment given that those displaying the banners live in a country where the native American population was driven from their land by, among others, Irish American immigrants.
“I have today received a reply from Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Alistair Finley which does nothing to allay my concerns.
“I have again written to the police asking if the PSNI was aware, and, if not, why not, of the official guidelines governing participation in this parade, before accepting the invitation. If they did not have knowledge, they certainly had the means of knowledge, and as much opportunity as I had to be acquainted with the said guidelines. The PSNI had a due diligence obligation to fully investigate, before accepting the invitation. So, did the PSNI know of these guidelines before participating?
“Temporary Deputy Chief Constable Finley informs me that the decision to take part in the parade was taken following consultation with the NIO, the Department of Justice, the Policing Board and the Department of Foreign Affairs. I have therefore asked if they all concurred with an acceptance and a) did the PSNI draw the 2014 Guidelines to their attention, or, b) did any of them draw the guidelines to the attention of the PSNI. Where were the Unionist members of the Policing Board?
“Furthermore we deserve to know why PSNI was consulting a department of a foreign government on whether it should accept an invitation.
“And given that the PSNI has willingly participated in a republican parade, is the PSNI now open to participate in an Orange parade?”
Note to editors
As well as writing to the PSNI Mr Allister has tabled the following written questions to the Justice Minister:
To ask DOJ was the department consulted by the PSNI before it accepted an invitation to participate in the 2014 St Patrick’s Day Parade, and, if so, at what level and with what response from the department.
To ask DOJ if the department was consulted by the PSNI before it accepted an invitation to participate in the 2014 St Patrick’s Day Parade, was the department aware, or make itself aware of the official guidelines governing the parade which stipulated that the only banner permitted was ‘England Get Out of Ireland’.