Ombudsman to investigate PSNI ‘inconsistencies’ over Black Lives Matter protest
Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman is to investigate alleged “inconsistencies” between the PSNI’s engagement with organisers of the Black Lives Matter protest in Londonderry and the funeral of senior republican Bobby Storey.
Marie Anderson said the investigation has been launched following a complaint from a member of the public who was involved in the anti-racism protest at Guildhall Square in Londonderry on Saturday, June 6.
The complaint involves allegations of inconsistencies in the policing approach to engagement and enforcement at the Black Lives Matter protest when compared with the funeral of Bobby Storey.
The complainant alleges that the inconsistencies amount to race discrimination.
“The Police Ombudsman has a statutory duty to investigate qualifying complaints about police conduct and is satisfied that the complaint, received on April 6 2021, is one that she is required to investigate,” the statement from the Ombudsman’s office read.
“The investigation will focus on matters related to the engagement of the PSNI with the organisers of the Black Lives Matter protest in Guildhall Square, Derry/Londonderry in advance of the event.
“The investigation will examine if this engagement was consistent with the PSNI’s approach to the organisers of Bobby Storey’s funeral.
“The investigation will also examine the PSNI strategy, policies and decision-making around the two events in light of this complaint.”
Police estimated about 500 people attended the Black Lives Matter demonstration in Derry last June in the midst of the Covid-19 restrictions.
A significant number of community resolution notices (CRNs) and fines were issued.
The rally was one of a number across the island of Ireland on June 6 sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody in the US.
At the time coronavirus public health regulations put limits on mass gatherings outdoors.
Strict limits were still in place on June 30 when about 2,000 people attended Mr Storey’s funeral in west Belfast.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and her party president Mary-Lou McDonald were among those who attended the funeral.
The political fallout saw the DUP and Ulster Unionists call for the resignation of PSNI chief constable Simon Byrne.
Earlier this month a review by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found no bias in the policing operation.
The review was launched after it was announced prosecutions could not be brought against 24 Sinn Fein politicians.