The PSNI has tonight issued a statement saying that UVF men may be seeking to confront officers over a contentious bonfire in east Belfast.
The Avoniel bonfire site in east Belfast, sited in the ground of a council-owned leisure centre, is facing possible demolition after a city council committee – meeting in secret – reaffirmed that it is keeping open the option of removing material from the site.
This evening, a gathering took place in the leisure centre grounds, with fast food, music and bandsmen performing.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said in a statement: “Over the last few weeks the PSNI has maintained close liaison with Belfast City Council on the issue of bonfires and this liaison continues this evening in relation to the bonfire at Avoniel Leisure Centre.
“The PSNI remains ready to assist Belfast City Council and any contractor they employ to remove bonfire materials. It is important to note that the PSNI do not have any legal powers regarding the removal of bonfire-related material from the site.
“The letter received this evening from Belfast City Council citing aggravated trespass at Avoniel Leisure Centre, is being treated as an initial complaint and we are engaging with the Council in order to progress our investigation. “Whilst the vast majority of people attending bonfires around Northern Ireland will do so peacefully and lawfully the PSNI informed Belfast City Council yesterday that our intelligence pointed to the threat that elements of East Belfast UVF may seek violent confrontation at the Avoniel site.
“I strongly welcome this evening the public statements made from members in the community calling for no violence. I would urge people to heed the calls from the community and not to engage in any violent or criminal behaviour.
“The PSNI hopes to see a peaceful resolution to this issue.
“As always, it is the safety of the community that remains our primary concern. All PSNI actions must be lawful and proportionate and the situation continues to be kept under review.”