THERE WERE angry confrontations between police and protestors at Stormont in east Belfast this Sunday as a planned protest at Northern Ireland’s new Covid-19 restrictions threatened to boil over.
Several arrests were made and fixed penalty notices handed out as demonstrators gathered in the grounds of the Stormont estate to voice their anger at the new lockdown measures.
Strict new regulations have been introduced by the Northern Ireland Executive in an attempt to curb the rising number of coronavirus cases reported across the region.
The new restrictions, which impact pubs, schools and restaurants, came into effect this past Friday evening.
Stormont today pic.twitter.com/ofVslbST5j
— Dpt (@Dpt00873672) October 18, 2020
According to a statement from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, more than 300 people attended today’s demonstration against the new regulations.
Jim Corr of The Corrs shared an invite to the event on his Twitter profile, along with a video showing protestors clashing with police at the event.
Several other videos were shared online from the event, which show the rally to have been a largely peaceful affair, save for a handful of scuffles involving the PSNI.
Tense situation with heavy handed tactics by the PSNI at what was till that point a peaceful demonstration at Stormont, Belfast pic.twitter.com/s3MtFsr9Le
— Jim Corr (@Jimcorrsays) October 18, 2020
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd confirmed police engaged with the organisers "before and during the protest".
"Unfortunately both the organisers and participants did not cooperate with these requests and continued in breach of the regulations," he said.
According to the PSNI, the number of people in attendance and the "lack of social distancing in the crowd were in stark contrast with assurances given to police by the organisers".
57 seconds in the speaker addressing the anti-maskers at Stormont, admits she has no professional knowledge but an opinion on the pandemic.. 🤷♂️ https://t.co/xHbTZzNGhY
— 𝙲𝚑𝚛𝚒𝚜 (@chris_derry) October 18, 2020
They have confirmed that follow-up enquiries to try to "identify others who may have committed offences" will be be conducted
"As I have said previously, in other times, we would work with organisers and protestors to facilitate lawful and peaceful protests, however, these are not ordinary times,"he said.
"The Health Protection Regulations, particularly at this time with increased restrictions in place, are there to protect us all during this pandemic and it is everyone's responsibility to adhere to them to protect our society," he added.