Time for cool heads and calm consideration after Lower Ormeau policing incident, says Blair

COVID-19 John Blair Police Paramilitary

It is time for cool heads and calm consideration, Alliance Policing Board representative John Blair MLA has said, following the incident at the anniversary of the Sean Graham’s bookies’ killings.

During a matter of the day at the Assembly today (Monday), Mr Blair said accountable and representative policing was vital, adding it was time to let the established accountability structures do their job. It follows Chief Constable Simon Byrne’s apology after a man was arrested at the event, marking the 29th anniversary of the massacre, and confirmed an officer has been suspended.

“Policing is a difficult job at the best of times but particularly so during a pandemic. Memorials and funerals are especially sensitive when it comes to the enforcement of COVID regulations, which have been put in place to protect us all and save lives,” said the South Antrim MLA.

“But just as we should understand the difficulties in those situations, we should also expect consistency in approach from the PSNI – that is vital for public confidence. It appears there was police intervention at a commemoration event but not a UVF show of strength in East Belfast a few days before.

“Having given his account of both incidents, we now need cool heads and calm consideration, while working with the Chief Constable and the PSNI to solve problems when they arise, repair damage when it is caused and try to maximise confidence in policing.

“Accountable and representative policing is vital – there is now an investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office, an internal PSNI investigation and a forthcoming Policing Board discussion with the Chief Constable. So it is time for cool heads and calm consideration, so we let the established accountability structures do their job.”