St Patrick’s Day: PSNI warns of ‘robust’ response to Covid-19 rule breaches

People told to not ‘flock to beauty spots’ as police in North plan ‘substantial’ operation

A senior Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officer has warned that police will deliver a "robust" response to any breaches of the Covid-19 regulations during St Patrick's Day in Northern Ireland.

Assistant chief constable Alan Todd said on Wednesday that hundreds of additional police officers will be on duty to ensure that coronavirus regulations and general public order are adhered to.

Mr Todd said the concentration will be on crowds heading to beauty spots in the North and also on the Holylands student area of south Belfast, where there has been disorder on St Patrick's Day in previous years.

The officer warned that as well as imposing financial penalties for house parties and not observing social distancing, any breaches of public order could lead to arrests.

People “can expect a robust response if they breach the rules”, said Mr Todd.

He said that people should “not flock to beauty spots and resorts” and instead should “stay at home or stay local”.

Mr Todd said people who had been fined previously for breaking the rules faced even tougher penalties.

He warned that people who took the chance of travelling to beaches and other beauty spots or travelled to climb Slemish Mountain in Co Antrim, which is associated with St Patrick, could face the prospect of being stuck in lengthy traffic jams and being sent home by police.

“It is a substantial policing operation, it will run to the hundreds of officers,” he said.

The North’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride already has warned against St Patrick’s Day parties. He said people considering such events should “wise up” and consider families grieving loved ones lost through Covid-19.