Belfast Telegraph

Smooth-running Open offers great advert for N Ireland, says police chief

Simon Byrne expressed hopes for an incident-free event as he visited Royal Portrush.

Chief Constable Simon Byrne said the Open was a great advert for Northern Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)
Chief Constable Simon Byrne said the Open was a great advert for Northern Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

A smooth-running Open Championship at Portrush would be a fabulous global advert for Northern Ireland, the chief constable has said.

Simon Byrne expressed hopes for an incident-free event as he visited Royal Portrush on Thursday, meeting some of the 300 officers who are on duty in and around the course for the duration of the tournament.

Mr Byrne said police would never discount the potential of attempts to disrupt the high-profile event, but said he was confident officers had contingency measures in place to combat any adverse incident.

“Frankly our major issues are around safe entry and egress making sure that the road traffic plan works,” he said.

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Millions of people will watch the Open (David Davies/PA)

“Our main objective is to make sure this event continues without incident and becomes a fabulous advert for this part of the world.

“There are 600 million seeing what a beautiful place it is and we can stand up to arrange something like this and make it a great event is a huge advert for us.”

On the prospect of a security incident, he said: “You can never say never and we would be foolish to be complacent but we have a range of counter measures that we can deploy here particularly in terms of how we patrol but other things that we will do to work with other people to make this event a safe event as far as we can.”

Mr Byrne, who admits he is not a golf fan, has been in charge of policing an Open before, during his time on Merseyside.

“Actually from what I have seen there’s not a lot of difference,” he said.

“It’s good cooperation from the get go between us and the organisers. That sets the tone and the policing style is talk to people, smile and be relaxed and help people have a great event.”

He said the return of the Open was testament to the journey Northern Ireland has been on in recent decades.

“It’s a tremendous achievement for everybody involved,” he said.

“The undercurrents of it coming back in years to come for the economy and tourism is fantastic, but also in putting a bit of pride in ourselves about what a great part of the world it is.”

PA

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