Gerry Carroll says
The PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has been the focus of some media attention recently over allegations that alongside others in the top brass of the PSNI, he has been involved in corruption and a cover up, relating to an investigation in 2014 about bribery and misconduct. The Police ombudsman is leading an inquiry into the matter.
The allegations centre around the idea that Hamilton and others played a prominent role in altering police Journals and diaries in order to point the finger at other former high ranking members of the PSNI, thus blaming them for involvement in malpractice and exonerating themselves in the process.
Hamilton is pleading his innocence and maintaining that he is “absolutely confident that there will not be misconduct established”. However what is really shocking – with an investigation and allegations on such a big scale – is that the Chief Constable is still in his position of power and influence. How can a truly independent inquiry, that in theory is supposed to establish all the facts and evidence, be able to carry out this role when one of the accused is still in a top position of influence?
No doubt it will be people who are working with Hamilton every day who are called in for questioning. There cannot be a fair inquiry while he remains in office. I firmly believe that Hamilton and all those other top rank in the PSNI should step aside, whilst the investigation is ongoing. If they don’t voluntarily step aside they should be removed from their positions.
This latest scandal shows how corruption goes right to the core of the political establishment in the North. First Arlene Foster and now George Hamilton. The political establishment in the North are surrounded by corruption, wrong doing and operations to protect their own interests. They are up to their necks in it. Many are asking what if anything has changed in the police force in the North.
It also says something about the fundamental nature of the Police in our society when we see the PSNI inquiry and recent events around disgraced Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan who was forced to step down after it was revealed that Guards where involved in systematic fake breathalyser tests and a culture of bullying around whistleblower Maurice McCabe. The very organisations that are supposed to “uphold the law” are having increasing lights shone on them for failing to do what they expect of everyone else.
North and South the police are mired in scandals that run right to the top of the organisations. Not to mention that they fail to investigate or arrest wealthy individuals or chief executives of corporations who are dodging their responsibility to pay their way, by stashing their money in off shore bank accounts and refusing to pay taxes.
Contrast the coverage that the RHI Scandal in the North (which rightly received a high level of coverage) with the coverage of the PSNI scandal. It really is night and day, with an attitude of nothing to be seen here prevailing. It appears that big sections of the establishment in the North do not want a lot of attention on the actions of the PSNI. Is it any wonder? When it comes to any movement for change in the North the PSNI are always used to crackdown and crack heads.
Those who want the status quo to remain have a vested interest in doing everything they can to protect and fall behind the PSNI. So allegations of corruption are swept under the carpet and not given the focus they should be.
Be it the protest against students fees in 2010 where students faced police repression and activists were dragged of the streets and thrown in police wagons; or, more recently, when abortion rights activists faced raids on their houses for having supported women getting access to the abortion pill.
Alarmingly we also saw a young woman, Ellie Evans, have the PSNI call to her door unannounced after holding a “Fuck the DUP” sign at gay pride in Belfast this year. Responding to a complaint made by arch DUP homophobic MLA Jim Wells, the police called to Ellie’s door in order to investigate complaints around a hate crime. Mad stuff indeed. Though there has not been a single visit to any DUP MLAs door, a bunch of whom have came out with deeply homophobic comments in the past.
So a lot of questions remain unanswered. Will the investigation lead to any conclusive findings? Will there be any charges brought against those who are facing very serious questions about their conduct? Time will tell but there certainly needs to be more attention paid to this unfolding story. The establishment cannot once again be allowed off the hook.