‘Protests must be lawful’

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LOCAL Police Inspector Alan McKeown has appealed to anyone planning to attend future flag protests to ensure that their actions remain lawful.

Inspector McKeown, who has been involved in policing demonstrations across Newtownabbey and Carrickfergus in recent weeks, stressed that people have the right to protest, but added that they must do so peacefully and lawfully.

“You can peacefully protest on a footpath or whatever, but when you come out onto a public road and block the highway then it’s unlawful,” he said.

Police have drawn up leaflets trying to explain to people the difference between ‘peaceful’ and ‘lawful’, which officers have attempted to hand out at a number of protests.

“We will facilitate peaceful protest, but when it becomes unlawful then we are duty bound to do something and to act,” he added.