Police win flag protest appeal

As the BBC reports, the Appeals Court has overturned a High Court ruling in April that the PSNI misdirected themselves in relation to policing the flag protests in Belfast – which “led to the situation in which the police facilitated illegal and sometimes violent parades with the effect of undermining the 1998 Act, in breach of their duties under section 32 of the Police (NI) Act 2000 and in breach of the applicant’s Article 8 rights.”  From the BBC report

Ruling on the appeal on Tuesday, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, who heard the case with Lord Justice Girvan and Mr Justice Weir, said: “The issues facing those policing this major public disruption which extended far beyond Belfast to all parts of Northern Ireland demonstrated the enormous difficulties for those policing modern societies in circumstances of community conflict and heightened tension.

“We consider that the decision to manage disruption and pursue a subsequent criminal justice charging policy was well within the area of discretionary policing judgment which such situations require in light of the challenges posed by the circumstances.”

Sir Declan said management of unnotified processions was not dealt with by the Parades Commission, but by police using public order powers.

He said the panel of judges did not believe there was “anything in the management of the issues arising from these parades by police” to suggest the Public Processions (NI) Act 1998 and the Police (NI) Act 2000 had been undermined.

Allowing the appeal, he added: “This was a difficult situation in which proportionate steps were taken to protect the Article 8 rights of the applicant and the other residents of the Short Strand.”

Following the verdict, lawyers for DB [the complainant] indicated they would take their case to the Supreme Court in London.

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  • Ruarai

    The issue with policing (and the criminal justice system police rely on) being based on cops’ discretion to manage disruption, as opposed to enforcing laws, i.e. red lines that can’t be crossed, is that, over the not-so-long term this approach empowers rather than deters disruptive.

    Nutshell: Turn up with few disrupters and you might get nicked. But mobilize a mob of disrupters and you get to set the policing agenda.

  • sergiogiorgio

    The politicians fail, the police fail, the law fails, the mob rules.

  • TwilightoftheProds

    Red lines? Strong enforcement of law? Mob Rule can’t be countenanced?

    Sounds very Unionist-circa 1970s.

    You’re probably right though. Think the cops are worried about making a bad situation worse – creating street ‘heroes’ , howls of victimisation if heads get bloodied- the consensus we have around policing is way stronger than it was back in the bad old days and policing can be more robust. Trouble is out come the cuffs, truncheons and baton guns in any number and community policing in those areas goes in the bin for months. Lose-Lose for the Peelers and us.

    Have we got finalised figures for protest related arrests? Standing off and scooping them later robbed miscreants of the victim card-judging by the contrite, hand wringing statements that emerged in the witness boxes.

  • redstar2011

    More of a case of old habits die hard. When Republicans attempted to block the road at Ardoyne they were beaten of it there and then

    Meanwhile I actually watched half a dozen unionist fleg scumbags blocking the city centre traffic near the Boyne bridge in Belfast whilst the cops facilitated them redirecting traffic away

  • Banjaxed

    The police can remove a flag if they really wish to. They were quick enough to remove two KKK flags in East Belfast (a mainly loyalist area) today after a public outcry. Whodathunk?

    Strange, therefore, that they were reluctant to act at the erection of UDA-inspired flags with the logo UDU (Ulster Defence Union) and the motto of the parent organisation (Quis Separabit) on Lisburn Rd, Belfast (a very, very mixed area).

    So what is it, PSNI – Good UDA, Bad UVF – or rolling over yet again?