PSNI welcomes flag protest tactic change

Published Thursday, 31 January 2013
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Police have welcomed a decision by loyalist flag protesters to swap roadblocks for white line demonstrations.

PSNI welcomes flag protest tactic change
A protest outside the City Hall over the Union Jack vote. (© UTV)

Police issued a statement following a meeting between senior police officers and the Ulster People's Forum on Tuesday where they said "frank and constructive" dialogue on protests and parades took place.

"Police were explicit that all protests need to be lawful and peaceful," a PSNI statement said.

They also discussed the human rights framework underpinning policing, breaches of the law and the associated criminal justice strategy that is being implemented.

Police said they welcomed the fact that legal, peaceful protest was being encouraged and officers agreed to meet with the Ulster People's Forum in the future.

The Ulster People's Forum said on Wednesday they will also be holding localised protests outside council officers to coincide with monthly meetings.

Jamie Bryson from the Ulster People's Forum said the group would support anybody who continues to protest in other ways as long as "it's non-violent and non-threatening".

White line protests, where groups demonstrate along the middle of a road and do not obstruct traffic, are legal and do not have to be notified to PSNI or the Parades Commission.

On Thursday police said that obstructing the road is an offence and that anyone who endangers someone else's safety during the pickets is also causing an offence.

"Individuals have the right to peaceful, lawful protest, in line with the Human Rights Act. Police will act appropriately to ensure that there is no unnecessary disruption caused to the public by such protest," a PSNI spokesperson said.

Last week, PSNI said they would be stepping up their operation against those involved in disorder associated with loyalist flag protests, and have drafted in Metropolitan Police members to liaise.

They have also released images of 19 people they want to question as part of their investigations.

There have been over 180 arrests and almost 130 charges in connection with the trouble which broke out following a Belfast City Council vote in December to reduce the number of days the Union flag flies at City Hall.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
James in Tyrone wrote (727 days ago):
Great to see the protesters are listening to the blocking the newtonards road tonight. Maybe the media should take notice and stop interviewing their members as if they hold any sway with the protesters
Mr Baggot in head in the clouds wrote (727 days ago):
Eamo in Belfast wrote (727 days ago):
Way to go, follow in the footsteps of your Republican brothers and sisters and do things lawfully.
joh in belfast wrote (727 days ago):
so whos to blame if one of the protesters gets hit by a car as they stand in the middle of the road???
Realist in England wrote (727 days ago):
Dear criminals, thank you for deciding not to break the law so much. With love, your police service.
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