PSNI chief plays down prospect of road-blocking protests for Stormont return

Psni Chief Plays Down Prospect Of Road-Blocking Protests For Stormont Return
PSNI data breach, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By David Young, PA

Northern Ireland’s police chief Jon Boutcher has downplayed the prospect of road-blocking protests ahead of the return of powersharing at Stormont.

Mr Boutcher was commenting on social media activity encouraging loyalists to engage in disruptive demonstrations ahead of the anticipated restoration of devolution.


The PSNI chief constable provided his assessment on the potential for illegal protest actions as he briefed members of his oversight body – the Northern Ireland Policing Board – in Belfast on Thursday.

Stormont Assembly
Loyalist protesters taking part in a lawful demonstration outside a DUP party executive meeting on Monday (Liam McBurney/PA)

“I’m aware of some of the social media material that is going out,” he said.


“I’d appeal to everybody to conduct themselves properly and within the law.

“There is ample opportunity through a democratic process to express your views and that’s something that we all advocate towards.

“We actually are not seeing – and we spoke about this as a team this morning, it was a conversation that I instigated around some of the social media material – we’re not actually seeing that this is going to be a thing, that this is actually going to happen.

“I’m almost nervous to say that. By me saying it, it might mean that people think ‘oh, I’m going to do this’.”


Mr Boutcher was responding to a question from Alliance Party board member Nuala McAllister.

“We’re the police and I have seen London brought to a standstill by protesters,” he added.

“It doesn’t do their cause any good actually because people can’t get to cancer appointments, people can’t get to see loved ones who are ill.



“That sort of disruption isn’t in the interests of any of the communities in Northern Ireland.

“So I’d appeal for people to act responsibly, to behave within the law and to allow us then to just get on with the difficult enough jobs that we’ve already got.


“But if they do break the law, we’ll deal with them, OK? Let the democratic process take its course.

“But I think there’s been some very, which I welcome, sensible voices saying, ‘no, this isn’t the way to do things and this isn’t going to happen’.

“That includes from the community who might not agree with recent decisions.

“There have been some voices of reason which I welcome and I hope the next few days pass off without any implications for the PSNI.

“But obviously we will be out there.”

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