Belfast Telegraph

Not about blanket flags policy but dose of common sense, says new PSNI Chief Constable Byrne

Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

New Chief Constable Simon Byrne weighed into the flag row on his first day in the job saying there was no need for a "blanket policy" but rather a "dose of common sense".

Mr Byrne was sworn in on Monday at the Policing Board's waterside headquarters in Belfast.

He said he was proud to take up the position describing the PSNI as a "unique service with unique challenges".

At the press conference he was asked about the erection of flags and banners across Northern Ireland communities.

There has been anger after UVF flags were erected in the Cantrell Close mixed housing development in Belfast. There have also been repeated calls for police and the Department for Infrastructure to take action against banners erected in support of Soldier F.

On Monday night Belfast City Council is to vote on a motion to take legal action to force the removal of unapproved banners from public property.

Simon Byrne said he felt it was not about a need for a "blanket policy" when asked if the police should have a role.

"For me it is about discretion and about understanding concerns and emotions in a number of different communities where those things are evident," he said.

"Some times if a banner or flag is completely offensive we may need to act differently in the moment.

"Broadly I think it is patience, it's about dialogue, its about acting with a dose of common sense frankly to deal with this issue."

Mr Byrne, it has been confirmed, will live in Northern Ireland during his tenure. It had previously been thought he would commute from England.

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