The Government is aware of the incident that took place following a memorial event on the Ormeau Road in Belfast on Friday, 5th February last. The memorial was marking the tragic loss of life that occurred 29 years ago at Sean Graham’s Bookmakers, when 5 people were murdered and several others wounded in a loyalist paramilitary attack.
The Government fully understands the sensitivities and concerns of the relatives and survivors about the policing intervention at this memorial event.
The PSNI Chief Constable has issued an apology, and has said that the incident was not reflective of the values of the PSNI.
There are very strong accountability processes in place for the PSNI through the Policing Board and the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, and these processes are now being fully engaged in relation to the 5th February incident. It is important to recall here that these robust accountability mechanisms were put in place on the recommendation of the Patten Commission on Policing which delivered a new beginning to policing in Northern Ireland, as mandated by the Good Friday Agreement.
The Policing Board has met to discuss this incident and has issued a statement emphasising consensus and a commitment to work with the Chief Constable in dealing with these issues. in addition, the Police Ombudsman is conducting an investigation into what happened, and while this investigation is ongoing, it would not be appropriate for the Government to comment further on the details of the incident.
Officials in our Secretariat in Belfast continue to engage with a wide range of stakeholders on a regular basis on policing and related issues.