Larne PSNI commander CI Catherine Magee was duty officer on Sunday night and has firmly rejected politicians’ claims that if the police response team had not been transferred from Larne to Ballymena the outcome might have been different.
She said: “I would absolutely refute that. If we had had two cars in Larne, three police cars in Larne, four police cars in Larne ... they could not have provided any different response to a crowd of 100 angry, masked and violent people. That requires specialist public order support.
“We had two local policing crews in Larne on Sunday night that responded within three minutes. That’s a good response; that’s the response that would normally be in Larne. But no police service, no area in Northern Ireland would have sufficient resources on duty for an spontaneous disorder such as we had on Sunday night.”
The PSNI chief added: “We provided an initial response within three minutes. They attended and were met with a very large, unruly and threatening crowd. The police themselves were attacked and they then had to try and provide additional vehicles which were more protected to allow them to respond. Within 18 minutes I had a specialised public order crew that had arrived in Larne. That was the right resource and they were in the right place.
“Once the public order unit was deployed the public order situation itself had de-escalated. At that point,we are dealing with potential life threatening injuries to a member of the public. We need to make sure that there are no other members of the public that have been seriously injured or potentially killed in the disorder, so we needed to go and check the other areas where the crowd had been. That takes time and we need to do it thoroughly, because we need to make sure that we will provide first aid if necessary,” said the senior officer.