Allister raises complaint with Chief Constable following arrest of street preacher in Larne
TUV Leader Jim Allister has raised a complaint with the PSNI Chief Constable following the arrest of a street preacher in Larne last Tuesday, 10 August.
Police responded to the incident at Main Street in the town after receiving complaints of hate-speech and antisocial behaviour.
TUV leader Jim Allister MLA commented:
“Following a complaint to the Chief Constable, on Monday in a meeting with Chief Superintendent Beck - Northern Region Commander, which includes Larne - I raised the arrest of Ryan Williamson for preaching in Larne Main Street.
“I expressed my deep unease at the police tactics and actions, which I described as “over the top”. I underscored the fundamental importance of freedom of speech, including for street preachers, and cautioned that the faith community is not the enemy of the police and should not be treated as such, or made to feel ostracised.
“I trust the PSNI has learned from this grossly mishandled situation and that fundamental liberties will be preserved.”
In a statement to Love Ballymena, the Police Service NI emphasised that the preacher was arrested as a result of his behaviour towards officers, and was not related to the content of any speech.
Chief Inspector Stephen Murray said:
“Police in Larne received a complaint of hate speech and another of anti-social behaviour in relation to males preaching in the Main Street area of the town on Tuesday 10 August.
“Officers attended the location and attempted to speak with a number of males, all of whom refused to engage. After several warnings, one man, aged 44, was arrested.
“I would reiterate that the arrest was on suspicion of disorderly behaviour. This related to the individual’s behaviour towards officers. The arrest was not related to the content of any speech.”