PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne has come under fierce criticism for suggesting children could be taken from their parents in a drive against paramilitarism.
Speaking at a ‘Policing – 20 Years on from Patten’ conference in Belfast he said he wanted to make the lives of paramilitaries a ‘misery’.
“My message to them is, if you keep doing this we’ll have your house. If you keep going, we’ll have your car, we’ll have your kids, we’ll have your benefits and we’ll put you in jail.”
He elaborated: “If you are somebody that has carried out a shooting, you’ve got a gun and you’ve got young children, why would I think you’re safe in the presence of young children? So what safeguarding powers have we got to take your kids into care if that’s a deterrant?”
Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said: “The Chief Constable’s remarks about taking children away from their parents and their homes are 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.”
Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly said: “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.”
Saoradh’s Paddy Gallager 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.”