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Full report on differing PSNI responses to protests needed, says Blair

A full report on the PSNI response to a protest outside Belfast City Hall compared to Black Lives Matter protests last week needs to be given, Alliance Policing Board member John Blair MLA has said.

Several hundred people gathered outside City Hall yesterday (Saturday) to participate in a ‘protect our statues’ protest. Following the event, PSNI confirmed no arrests were made or fines issued. According to police, a ’significant number’ of fines were given out at last week’s Black Lives Matter protests in Belfast and Derry-Londonderry.

“The PSNI has a challenging job and receives support from the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland, including Alliance, in its role of upholding the rule of law,” said Mr Blair.

“But accountability is a vital part of modern policing here and questions need to be asked about the seemingly different approaches to these two protests. The Chief Constable is responsible for operational policing matters and I have now raised this matter with the Policing Board, asking for a full report on the matter.

“People should not be gathering in large groups in the midst of a pandemic. They are putting into risk not only their own lives, but the lives of others. However, the PSNI needs to apply a consistent approach to all such protests or else they risk damaging the community confidence in the organisation, particularly from ethnic minority members of our society.”