PSNI respond to Supreme Court ruling over union flag protests

The Union Flag
The Union Flag

The PSNI say they will “study carefully” a judgement made at the UK’s highest court over the failure of Northern Ireland police to prevent union flag protests.

Five Supreme Court justices in London ruled unanimously in favour of the unnamed resident, announcing that the police did have the legal power to stop the parades.

Mass loyalist demonstrations, some of which descended into serious violence, were staged across Northern Ireland in opposition to Belfast City Council’s decision to limit the number of days the union flag flew over City Hall.

In April 2014, a judge at the High Court in Belfast ruled in favour of the resident of the nationalist Short Strand area of east Belfast, who claimed the police’s failure to stop unnotified loyalist marches past his home between December 2012 and February 2013 breached his right to privacy and family life.

Later that year, appeal judges overturned the ruling following a challenge by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

The resident then took his case to the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, the justices said the PSNI had “misconstrued” its legal powers to stop parades passing through or adjacent to the Short Strand area.

A PSNI spokeperson, responding to the ruling, said: “The protracted period of protests, and associated disorder, was a challenging time for everyone in Northern Ireland.

“Throughout the months of the flag protests the over-riding concern of Police was always the safety of all communities and the protection of life.

“We have received a copy of the judgment and will now study it carefully.”