East Belfast MLA and Policing Board member Joanne Bunting has reiterated public anger at the inconsistency of PSNI enforcement activity during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Commenting after today’s monthly meeting of the Policing Board where she also highlighted widespread frustration at delays in the investigation into alleged breaches of the regulations at the funeral of Bobby Storey, Ms Bunting said:
‘‘Five months on from the funeral of Bobby Storey and with only three weeks to Christmas there is a real risk that criminal proceedings will not commence before the offences become statute-barred.
Given that individuals sought for interview were afforded the luxury of eight weeks to respond to the investigation and give their consent for interview, the public are likely to treat assurances provided by the Chief Constable that every step is being taken to ensure this doesn’t happen with a pinch of salt. The reality is that action is long-overdue. Nobody can be above the law and regardless of the politics or personalities of this case due process must be followed to ensure justice is served.
There are also wider concerns surrounding PSNI enforcement of Covid regulations that remain unaddressed. In my own constituency, I was recently contacted by a constituent who was celebrating her husband’s 30th birthday with her husband, his parents and two friends. The police promptly arrived at their door and all six were furnished with £200 fines.
This approach stands to stark contrast to the light-touch approach to public disorder on the streets of the Holylands in recent days where very few fines were issued.
We need to see a consistent application of the law.’’
West Tyrone MLA Tom Buchanan added:
“This inconsistency in upholding the law is simply not acceptable and is eroding community confidence in local policing. We cannot have a situation where officers are too willing to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut whilst at the same time standing idly by at major breaches of the regulations. This approach must change and change quickly.’’