Policing Board member Mervyn Storey and Chair of the Justice Committee Paul Givan have said the decision by the PPS not to prosecute all subjects reported in connection with attendance at the Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020 may not surprise anyone, but it does raise other questions.
The DUP MLAs said,
“The PPS decision in relation to the Black Lives Matter Protests may not come as a surprise to many people but it does raise some questions. These include issues around the definition of “outdoor gathering” and “outdoor activity”. Given the reduction in risk of transmission outdoors and the issues raised by the PPS it lends weight to calls from my colleagues to see outdoor restrictions lifted.
There are questions too for the PSNI around how they balance human rights considerations such as the right to protest and the right to peaceful assembly. These are issues that we will pursue through the Policing Board. The Director of Public Prosecutions will also be appearing before the Justice Committee later this month when he can be questioned further.
Given the inaction in relation to thousands of people crammed into Milltown Cemetery at the funeral of Bobby Storey, there would have been an even sharper contrast of treatment however had prosecutions been taken forward in these 14 cases. People will reflect however that whilst the outcomes in terms of prosecutions was the same, there were very different policing and evidence gathering operations put in place.”