Hate crime legislation ‘needs to be changed’

Posted By: July 24, 2015

MLA makes call after loyalists threaten police on Facebook

 John Monaghan.Irish News.(Belfast). Friday, July 24, 2015

 SDLP MLA John Dallat. Below : the UPRG Facebook post threatening members of the PSNI 

A Facebook post by the UPRG group queried whether police officers “should be allowed” to live in unionist areas
LEGISLATION covering hate crimes in the north needs urgently changed following fresh loyalist threats against police officers, an SDLP MLA has said.

East Derry MLA John Dallat said it was “mindboggling” that the PSNI deemed a Facebook post by the Ulster Political Research group to be within the law.

A posting from the UPRG group, which has links to the UDA, asks: “Should they (police) be allowed to live amongst us while they continue to treat us like pariahs?”

The comment was posted by the north Antrim, Derry and Tyrone branch of the party, which “provides political advice” to the UDA.

It is the second loyalist threat against the PSNI since the Twelfth, after masked and armed men issued death threats to officers and Parades Commission staff, describing them as “legitimate targets.”

Police later carried out searches at a Co Antrim Orange hall and the home of a prominent loyalist.

The PSNI said it was “aware” of the remarks posted by the UPRG but that “no crime had been committed”.

The UPRG denied that the posting could be interpreted as a threat.

Mr Dallat said: “The Facebook posting is clear encouragement to the lowest common denominators in loyalist areas to turn on police officers living in unionist areas. That is the purpose of the question, otherwise why ask it?”

“It is clear to me that there is a concerted effort by the UDA and its so-called political mouthpieces in the UPRG to step up hostility against the police where they are most vulnerable and that is where they live.

“The fact that, according to the PSNI, this is not a crime surely must make the Minister for Justice David Ford rush to the Bills Office at Stormont to amend the hate laws as applied in Northern Ireland.”

Mr Dallat, who has himself previously been the subject of loyalist death threats, said it was time for the north to get “a complete spring clean.”

He said: “A stage has now been reached where there must be no ambiguity in relation to attitudes towards those who want to spew hate in our community whether it is against civilians or the police. Sitting on the fence is not acceptable.

“This place needs a complete spring clean whether it is the flags that are promoting loyalist killer gangs, Nazis, the Parachute Regiment or racism or indeed the websites that are used as tools to promote sectarianism and division. There must be a call for new and functional laws on hate crimes.”