A local councillor has likened proposals made by the PSNI’s Chief Constable to “oppressive tactics” employed by Israeli police against Palestinians.
The comments made by Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly come after recently appointed Chief Constable, Simon Byrne, suggested taking children away from their parents to combat paramilitarism.
Councillor Donnelly said: “Having failed to make any positive impact within working class Nationalist and Republican communities, Simon Byrne's proposal to effectively kidnap and hold for political ransom children of Republican activists is, at best, idiotic and smacks of Israeli oppression tactics in Palestine.
“Should such a policy be implemented, Mr Byrne will succeed only in uniting the Nationalist and Republican community firmly against him and his failed police force.”
When asked about the recent increase in dissident violence Mr Byrne said on Wednesday that the community should say to all the paramilitaries that “enough is enough”.
“The use of paramilitary attacks, beatings, breaking people’s legs, other limbs, in the name of the rule of law, is just odious. How anyone could think that is justified in a civil society is beyond me,” he said.
Mr Byrne added that he planned to allocate more resources to the PSNI’s paramilitary crime task force “so that we make these people’s lives a misery”.
“My message to them is if you carry on doing this we will have your house, we will have your car, we will have your kids, we will have your benefits, and we will put you in jail.”
He later sought to withdraw "the interpretation that children are pawns, if that's what's been heard", at a meeting of the Policing Board, adding, that it was not his intention.
Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson, Raymond McCartney, said the Chief Constable’s remarks about taking children away from their parents and their homes was unacceptable.
“The safety and welfare of children must always be paramount, they can’t be used as pawns in a wider strategy to ‘deter’ paramilitaries in their anti-community activity.
“It flies in the face of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and all the evidence and current good practice within the criminal justice system concerning the safeguarding of children.
“His comments are all the more unacceptable since they were made at a conference on 'Young People, Policing and Stop and Search' powers.”
Meanwhile, Junior McDaid House, based in Chamberlain Street in Derry, which is the National Headquarters of Republican Party Saoradh, branded his comments as “prejudiced, discriminatory and disgusting”.
In a statement posted on Facebook it said: “Byrne seemingly wants to deprive the children of Republicans the right to a family life by having his armed stormtroopers detain them and put them into care homes.
“What we have here is a situation akin to the worst anti-democratic regimes on the planet, with the foreign head of a State militia threatening to kidnap the children of his opponents.”
It added: “Republicans will not tolerate threats by any representative of Britain to take our children away from us. We will resist any attempts to do so. Rather than killing our children, as in the past, Simon Byrne wants to kidnap them instead.”
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