Social Democratic and Labour Party Leader Colum Eastwood MP has urged people and political leaders to maintain calm after what he described as ‘a bad week’ for the PSNI.
The Foyle MP said that the actions of a few should not be allowed to jeopardise the progress made since the new beginning to policing.
Mr Eastwood also urged political leaders from all parties to channel frustrations through the police accountability structures before issuing broad statements relating to confidence in policing.
Colum Eastwood MP said:
“This has been a bad week for the PSNI. Enforcing the Covid-19 regulations is a difficult job, we all acknowledge that. But the striking inconsistency that allowed gangs of masked men to walk around East Belfast freely whereas those paying their respects on the anniversary of an atrocity were subject to physical confrontation and arrest cannot go unchallenged.
“Political leaders have a responsibility to challenge that inconsistency. But we also have a responsibility to maintain calm in our communities.
“This is a difficult time for us all. There is a deep strain on our politics and on political relationships caused by the challenges of Brexit. I also think that this period of lockdown, in particular, is proving more difficult for many in our communities. People are on edge and we have a duty to provide leadership.
“It is difficult to watch the footage of the last week and not be angry. But that frustration with how the PSNI has managed events should be channeled through the police accountability structures. The New Beginning to Policing was hard won in Northern Ireland. We cannot allow the actions of a few to destabilise the progress we’ve made.
“No one envies the job the police have to do but we should expect the tules to be enforced fairly and consistently. The SDLP will be pursuing these issues through the Policing Board as a matter of urgency.”