Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: “Local Police, in close consultation with partners, principally the land-owners DfI, worked alongside mediators in the weeks leading up to the 11th July in order to facilitate and support a community based resolution to the bonfire sites where public safety was a concern.
“As efforts intensified leading up to 6th July, mediators & community representatives indicated to DfI and PSNI that rumours of an intervention planned for that weekend were hampering progress in the mediation process.
“In order to support the work of the mediators and the local community representatives, and after full discussion with the landowners, police informed those concerned that no such interventions were planned for that weekend. This position did not change until Tuesday 10 July when, as the direct result of a court order, the landowner DfI asked for police to support their contractors in the removal of materials from the site at the Bloomfield Walkway and on Wednesday 11 July when a similar request was made to police by DfI in respect of the site at Cluan Place.
“Throughout this period, it was the preferred outcome for police and their partners to have these matters resolved by a community based and community supported resolution. Regrettably, the continued actions of bonfire builders in breaching agreements made with mediators and community representatives and ultimately the order of the court meant that DfI were given no option but to act and for police to support them in doing so. Whilst police had planned for such a contingency, it was not the preferred approach nor ultimately was it a decision for police to act. This decision was taken by the landowner, DfI, and in response to the order of the court.
“It is simply not accurate to categorise this as police action in which others were reluctant participants. At all times police made it clear that their role was to provide for the safety of any contractors tasked by the landowners in response to public safety concerns, in the event that the landowner decided to intervene.”