Investigation launched after crowds celebrate Rangers title win in Belfast

Masses of fans gathered on streets of Shankill area to mark team’s victory

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard celebrates with the trophy after winning the Scottish Premiership at Ibrox Stadium. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard celebrates with the trophy after winning the Scottish Premiership at Ibrox Stadium. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

 

Police have launched an investigation into a breach of Covid-19 regulations by large crowds who gathered in Belfast on Saturday to celebrate Rangers winning the Scottish Premiership.

Masses of fans gathered on the streets of the predominantly loyalist Shankill area to mark the title win, after the side beat Aberdeen 4-0. Bus services had to be diverted around the area for a time.

Police said they were monitoring potential breaches of coronavirus restrictions during the gathering.

Under the North’s Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations, only 10 people from two households are allowed to congregate outdoors.

On Sunday, the PSNI’s chief inspector Darren Fox said there was “clearly a breach” of the regulations.

“Police attended a large gathering in the Shankill area on Saturday, May 15th and in order to engage, explain and encourage people to adhere to the Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations,” he said.

“It is extremely disappointing to see the numbers involved, which are clearly a breach of the regulations, when we know so many other people are playing their part to keep people safe and adhere by the regulations.”

Chief inspector Fox added: “An investigation is now under way, and action may be taken in relation to breaches of the regulations.”

Warning

On Friday, Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann had warned football fans against breaching Covid-19 restrictions as league seasons drew to an end.

“I am very aware of just how important football is to many people, not least over the past number of months when Covid-19 restrictions curtailed so much of our lives,” he said.

“There may be a temptation to get together for these big matches both through indoor mixing between households and in larger gatherings outdoors.

“I would urge people to keep abiding by the public health advice and Covid-19 restrictions. This is how we protect ourselves and others.”

In Scotland, police described as “disgraceful” a march of thousands of Rangers fans from the Ibrox stadium to George Square in Glasgow city centre, where missiles were thrown and flares set off, following the team’s first premiership title win in more than a decade.

Three police officers were injured amid scenes of unrest. Police Scotland said 20 people were arrested and more arrests will follow as investigations continue.

On Twitter, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was “utterly disgusted” by fans who “rampaged” through the city.