Northern Ireland news

George Hamilton accuses politicians of saying one thing to him and another to the public

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton ahead of his "Reflections on policing with the community" lecture at Queen's University Belfast. Picture by Liam McBurney, Press Association
Michael McHugh, Press Association

POLITICIANS are "shifting the blame" for the "stalling" peace process, the PSNI chief constable has said.

At a lecture at Queen's University Belfast last night, George Hamilton said he was disappointed by public representatives who sympathised in private then publicly claimed there was no confidence in policing.

The departing police chief said his work had been an at times painful experience, sometimes feeling part of progress but on occasion stuck or pulled backwards.

"I therefore find it disappointing when politicians from all parties give me tea and sympathy on the issue in private but in public talk of our failures in dealing with legacy and how this has created 'rock bottom confidence' in policing or partisan policing by only pursuing state actors ... that is not effective accountability, that is point scoring - it is shifting the blame," he said.

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"What policing needs on this issue is political honesty and leadership to bring about solutions. Families need that leadership and honesty, too.

"I think it is a damning indictment, that in the ongoing political vacuum, members of grieving families are passing away without any resolution, without justice and without answers."

Mr Hamilton expressed frustration at the collapse of the Policing Board along with the devolved institutions.

Stormont power-sharing has been suspended since January 2017.

Legacy mechanisms to investigate Troubles-era crimes have also not yet begun work.

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The chief constable, who is due to leave his post within weeks, told the audience at Queen's: "A restored (Stormont) Executive would have the opportunity, and I believe the community support, to take brave steps to reset our transformation agenda."

"I believe the learning we have gained over the last 20 years would allow us to be more ambitious about what we can achieve," he said.

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