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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
PA PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne
major breach

Archbishop asks Catholics to support PSNI in wake of data breach as man questioned by detectives

Detectives have arrested a 39-year-old man on suspicion of “collection of information likely to be useful to terrorists”.

THE ARCHBISHOP OF Armagh has called on Catholics to support the Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) in the wake of a major data breach.

The surname, initial, rank or grade and work location of PSNI employees was accidentally published in response to a Freedom of Information request and available to the public for several hours last week.

Detectives have arrested a 39-year-old man on suspicion of “collection of information likely to be useful to terrorists”. 

He is being questioned by Detectives at Musgrave Serious Crime Suite.

It follows an incident earlier this week in which a version of the document with names redacted was posted onto a wall facing Sinn Féin’s office in Belfast, which a party spokesperson described as “sinister”.

Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Hill said in a statement this afternoon: “We are working tirelessly to address the risk posed to officers and staff. Today’s search operation, and subsequent arrest, is just one piece of a large scale operation.

“We will continue in our efforts to disrupt criminal activity associated with this freedom of information data breach and to keep communities, and our officers and staff who serve them, safe.”

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrn met today with Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland Eamon Martin, who expressed his concern about the release of the sensitive data.

The archbishop said that he has spoken to several families and relatives of Catholic PSNI members and stated his “unequivocal support for all those who serve as police members or civilian support workers for the PSNI”.

“I have previously encouraged young people from the Catholic community to consider a career in policing. Today I reiterate this sentiment,” he said.

“For that reason I also call on everyone in the community to reject entirely those who would intimidate or threaten the courageous women and men – including those from the Catholic community – who selflessly choose this noble vocation of policing.”

“I am in no doubt but that the future of peace and prosperity across the island of Ireland will depend upon respect and support for policing. Today I assured the Chief Constable that all members of the PSNI, and their families, are in my prayers at this time.”