Allister raises ‘scandalous PSNI handling’ of Ballymena birthday party in Stormont
TUV Party Leader and North Antrim MLA Jim Allister has criticised what he has called the ‘scandalous handling’ of a birthday party in Ballymena by the Police, during which a number of £200 fines and Community Resolution Notices (CRN) we’re issued to young girls who are understood to be in the same ‘bubble’.
During a debate on the Covid restrictions in Stormont yesterday (Tuesday 18 May) Jim Allister said:
“There is the whole issue of disparity in enforcement, and it is back in particular focus this morning.
“We were told many times about the four Es: engage, explain, encourage and enforce, yet, I am presently dealing with a case in my constituency where, two weeks ago tomorrow, a family thought it appropriate to celebrate the 18th birthday of their daughter. So, they invited to a marquee that they erected in their garden 13 other girls who are in the same school bubble.
“When parents started to arrive to collect the kids between 11.00 pm and 11.30pm, the PSNI turned up and issued £200 fines to every kid who was 18, and to those who were still 17, they issued a community resolution notice to take home to their parents to require them to sign it.
“The kids who were about to go home at 11.30 pm were retained on the premises, in close proximity, until 2.00 am, one of the reasons being because the PSNI had to travel back to Ballymena to get the ticket books. Then, when they came back, a police officer sat in the middle of the group of kids with his mask down round his neck. There was no engagement, no explanation and no encouragement, just enforcement. “The House will not be surprised to hear that those families are beyond irate, and rightly so.
“Of course, it is necessary to enforce regulations, but they need to be enforced in a consistent and sensible manner. Where was the sense in keeping kids who were about to disperse for another two and a half hours in the very proximity that was the objection and the cause of the complaint? Where were the first three Es of the four? I have been in correspondence with the Chief Constable's office since the morning after, but I cannot even get an answer. Why is that? Maybe I should go to Mr Parr. He seems to have a particular take on regulations. Some of these matters are being dealt with in a really shameful manner.”
Responding to the criticism, a police spokesperson told Love Ballymena:
“A member of staff has been in contact with Mr Allister to discuss the matters raised in his letter and to advise that a response will issued in due course.”