PSNI Statement on Supreme Court Ruling on Flag Protests
Following today's Policing Board meeting in relation to the Supreme Court ruling on how the PSNI handled the union flag protests and parades of 2012/13, Chief Constable George Hamilton said: "The judgement found that we misconstrued our legal powers to stop parades passing through or adjacent to Short Strand. We accept and respect the ruling of the Supreme Court and are grateful for this judicial clarity which will help guide us in how we consider and use our legal powers in the future.
"We welcome the strong acknowledgement of the Police Service's operational independence and the fact that the police must be allowed discretionary judgement in what, the Supreme Court recognised are, often very challenging and fraught circumstances. The judgement points out that the difficulties in making police decisions should not be underestimated.
"The protracted period of protests, and associated disorder, was a challenging time for everyone in Northern Ireland. During this period over 150 police officers sustained injuries and some still remain unable to carry out their full duties. Over 700 people were charged with public order offences and yet not a member of the public was seriously injured. That is credit to the professionalism of our officers who policed the situation at the time. Throughout the period, Police acted with integrity and good faith. Our main concern was the safety was the safety of all communities and the protection of life. This will always be our main concern."