We Say

A ball of blue steam

Anyone living in nationalist Belfast knows that the IRA remains active and is behind many of the so-called punishment shootings which have taken place in recent months — all of which have been consistently condemned by this paper. Our readers also know that mainstream republicans are responsible for keeping a lid on the activities of the many dissident groups which pose a deadly threat to the peace process.

But no-one, including PSNI chief Hugh Orde, knows who attacked dissident republican Bobby Tohill and bundled him into a van outside Kelly’s Cellars on Friday night.

The suspicion must be that the IRA was involved but then, as Mr Tohill himself attests in these pages, he has a lot of enemies.

Certainly, what mustn’t happen is that the PSNI boss, whose job in the criminal justice process is solely to make arrests, takes on the jobs as well of judge and jury to denounce four men arrested after the Tohill incident as kidnappers and members of the IRA.

The RUC never had much regard for the old adage, ‘innocent until proven guilty’, but Mr Orde should know that the PSNI is supposed to be about a new approach to policing not more of the same.

By his disgraceful outburst, Mr Orde has sent the peace process spiralling into another crisis even though it appears that the entire ugly incident at Kelly’s Cellars will amount to no more than a ball of blue steam. Certainly, Mr Tohill says he won’t be pressing charges and a kidnapping case without a kidnap victim might be a bridge too far for even the most loyal judge.

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