An Alliance Party delegation this afternoon met with the Chief Constable, Hugh Orde, to discuss the Northern Bank robbery, and other policing issues including paramilitarism, and hate crimes.
The Alliance delegation consisted of Party Leader – David Ford, Chief Whip – Kieran McCarthy, Naomi Long MLA, and Justice Spokesperson – Stephen Farry.
Speaking after the meeting, Alliance Party Leader, David Ford stated:
“It is clear from listening to the Chief Constable that he has no doubt that the IRA were involved in the Northern Bank raid. Indeed, this accreditation is reinforced by others. The investigation into this major crime is one of the biggest undertaken by the PSNI. Alliance will be further exploring this issue when we meet with the Taoiseach and other southern party leaders in Dublin tomorrow.
“Alliance also took the opportunity to discuss a range of other policing issues. We explored the response of the police to Hate Crime. Clearly, the police are making this a bigger priority and are putting in place the infrastructure to deal with complaints. However, the clear-up rate for such crimes is still far too low and there is a need for successful prosecutions to be taken under the new Hate Crime legislation.
“Last summer, ambiguities within the law relating to parades put the police in an impossible position. It is important that loopholes relating to parade followers are closed well in advance of this year’s marching season. Alliance supported the setting up of the Parades Commission because it took decisions like this out of the police’s hands. I will be writing to the Secretary of State to stress the importance of the Government moving forward with corrective legislation as a priority.
“Alliance was also keen to ensure that the police follow up their actions last year against illegal paramilitary flags. We stressed the importance of the police adopting a consistently high standard across Northern Ireland. However, we shared common concerns about the lack of real partnership between agencies in tackling this annual scourge. It is hoped that the forthcoming Shared Future framework document will put in place clearer protocols for the bodies with responsibilities in this regard, such as the Housing Executive and Roads Service.”