PSNI chief constable to appeal protest parades judgment

Judge found police guilty of ‘unjustified enforcement inertia’

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott is to appeal a Belfast High Court judgment which found police wrongly facilitated illegal and sometimes violent loyalist flag protest parades.

On Monday, Mr Justice Séamus Treacy upheld a legal challenge by an east Belfast nationalist resident complaining about how the PSNI dealt with illegal loyalist flags protest parades during December 2012 and January 2013.

The judge found the PSNI had not properly understood its powers over how it dealt with the protests and complained of a police approach of "unjustified enforcement inertia". Assistant chief constable Will Kerr gave evidence that police did not have powers to ban the protests but had powers to manage disorder.

Police powers
Mr Justice Treacy said it was "evident that ACC Kerr was labouring under a material misapprehension as to the proper scope of police powers and the legal context in which they were operating".

The judge said during the period in question Mr Kerr “did not address himself to the question of whether to stop the weekly parade, nor did the police behave proactively, or at all, in relation to prosecuting those organising and participating in the parades”.


Mr Baggott said the police approach had been measured and responsible in “very challenging times” and he would appeal the judgment.

“This judgment does not appear to me to take full account of the sheer scale of the protests,” he said.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times