Claims of two-tiered policing in borough

The Orange Order's Carnmoney District Master, Albert Steele.
The Orange Order's Carnmoney District Master, Albert Steele.

A senior Orangeman from Newtownabbey has claimed that there is a two-tier policing system evident in the borough.

Carnmoney District Master, Albert Steele, voiced his concerns following a high-profile incident on the Ormeau Road in south Belfast at the return leg of a Junior Orange parade on Easter Tuesday.

Unionist representatives have described the police response to an altercation between members of a loyalist flute band and police officers as ‘heavy-handed’ and ‘excessive’. Members of the unionist community have been vocal since the incident, saying that there is a two-tiered approach to policing in Northern Ireland.

Mr Steele said: “There is certainly a two-tier approach to policing in the Newtownabbey area. This is evident in Glengormley, where police appear to have a heavy-handed approach to Protestant youths and seem to be less stringent when dealing with nationalist youths.

“Police will say this is not the case, but ordinary people in the area will say that it is. We don’t have a real peace process. It is a republican appeasement process and this approach to policing is a part of it.”

Meanwhile, a representative from South Antrim Progressive Unionist Party echoed these sentiments of a two-tiered policing strategy. The spokesman said: “There’s very much a perception within the loyalist community that there is a big difference in how parades and protests are policed in republican and loyalist areas. We would urge anyone who believes they are a victim of injustice to take action through the proper channels such as the Police Ombudsman. Currently loyalist people don’t have a lot of confidence in the PSNI.”

Senior police officers have denied claims of a two-tier policing system, saying they take the same approach to all parades, regardless of whether they are loyalist or republican demonstrations.