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PSNI 'reject' claim from Michael D Higgins about security escort to Belfast

“It is clear now that Michael D Higgins claim has caused considerable anger within the PSNI… This is very serious.”

Image: Niall Carson via PA Images

THE POLICE SERVICE of Northern Ireland has reportedly rejected claims from President Michael D Higgins about a trip to Belfast.

During Virgin Media One’s presidential debate, Peter Casey criticised the President’s decision to take a jet to Belfast for an engagement and have his car driven up from Dublin meet him there.

Higgins says the travel arrangement was made due to security concerns about being picked up at the border.

But those claims have been called into question as the BBC are reporting that “well-placed PSNI sources have rejected that claim”. 

“It would be inconceivable that the President of Ireland would not have been afforded security if it had been requested,” a PSNI source told the BBC.

A second source said there is “anger” within the PSNI at the suggestion that it did not have sufficient resources to escort Higgins from the border to Belfast.

After refusing to comment for the BBC story before it was published, a spokesperson for Higgins later got in touch to say that “it would not be appropriate to further comment on the detail of security arrangements”.

Sinn Féin presidential candidate Liadh Ní Riada said that Higgins “must make a public statement on this matter immediately”.

“It is clear now that Michael D Higgins claim has caused considerable anger within the PSNI… This is very serious. He must come clean,” the MEP said.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: “It is a long established policy of the Police Service of Northern Ireland not to comment on the security arrangements made for individuals. 

The Police Service of Northern Ireland routinely work with visiting Heads of State and other key figures visiting Northern Ireland and make full provisions for their safety in line with their requirements.

Reacting to the story on Sunday, Seán Gallagher said:

We are seeing a pattern of hiding behind the term ‘security concerns’ as a means of not answering questions and concealing information.

“It is clear that President Higgins misled the public during the Pat Kenny Presidential debate about the reason for the use of the Government Jet to go to Belfast for a lecture.”

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