Northern Ireland news

SDLP brands DUP north coast crowds prediction "unhelpful"

DUP councillor George Duddy claimed large numbers of people would visit towns such as Portrush (pictured) over Easter following the decision not to prosecute anyone over the Bobby Storey funeral. Picture by Pacemaker
Seamus McKinney

A DUP councillor has been criticised for saying that large crowds would “flood” the Causeway coast area over Easter because of the decision not to prosecute anyone over the Bobby Storey funeral.

Coleraine DUP councillor George Duddy said police appeals to the public to observe Covid-19 regulations were “not worth the time and effort it took someone to type” after the decision not to prosecute any senior Sinn Féin members for attending Mr Storey's funeral last June.

The Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council councillor was responding to an appeal from police asking that people celebrate Easter at home.

The Coleraine councillor said it was clear from comments posted in reply to the police appeal that people were “at the end of their tether” following lockdown and the Bobby Storey inquiry.

“The comments attributed to this post are quite clear; the regulations finished yesterday after the ludicrous PPS decision (not to prosecute),” he said.

SDLP assembly member for East Derry Cara Hunter said the councillor's comments were "disappointing and unhelpful".

"I urge people to follow public health guidance,” Ms Hunter said.

Mr Duddy's party colleague and mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Mark Fielding said the BT49 postcode area had witnessed the highest number of Covid-19 infections in the last week.

“As we look forward to the Easter holiday period, don't put yourself at risk by becoming complacent. Avoid any busy areas if you have to go out this weekend, keep your distance from others, wear a face covering where required and wash your hands well and often," he said.

In a pre-Easter appeal, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable, Alan Todd appealed to people to remain at home but urged caution if there was a need to travel.

“The regulations also direct that no person may leave or remain away from home without reasonable excuse. Travel or stay at holiday accommodation does not constitute reasonable excuse and we are asking everyone to continue to postpone their visits to holiday accommodation until regulations change,” he said.

He warned drivers to be mindful that greater numbers of people would be using public roads. ACC Todd also warned motorcyclists to take particular care in light of the deaths of five bikers on the roads since the start of the year.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news