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Police chief faces quiz on response to party in Belfast city apartments

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Party: revellers in Obel Tower 64

Party: revellers in Obel Tower 64

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Party: revellers in Obel Tower 64

The Chief Constable will face questions over the PSNI's handling of a party in a Belfast apartment complex, after police said revellers in breach of social distancing rules would only face enforcement action as a "last resort".

No one was charged with any offence and no fines were issued when police removed around 40 revellers after all-night parties in the Obel Tower 64 at Donegall Quay over the weekend.

It's understood Simon Byrne will be asked to provide information to the Policing Board tomorrow about any fines for those found to be in breach of regulations - and, if no fines were imposed, to explain the rationale behind PSNI thinking in dealing with the situation, which was revealed exclusively in the Belfast Telegraph earlier this week.

Health Minister Robin Swann called the actions of those involved "reckless and dangerous".

"I am shocked by the scenes where groups of people gathered to party," he said.

First Minister Arlene Foster said she was "shocked" by photographs of the party, and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said it was "totally unacceptable".

Alliance MLA and Policing Board member John Blair said he has asked for an update on the situation.

"I have tabled a question and expect to hear a response at the Policing Board meeting on Thursday," he said.

"Police are facing difficulties in implementing regulations and we have to work with them on that, but such gatherings are not permitted."

Police said that enforcement action would only be taken as "a last resort" after around 40 non-residents were asked to leave the complex in the early hours of Sunday morning.

They said they had attended the premises on a number of occasions throughout the night.

Apartments at the complex were still available yesterday, but only on proof of key worker status or the need to self-isolate because of Covid-19.

Belfast Telegraph