There have been 21 incidents of disorder across Northern Ireland in recent days.The figure was revealed in a policing board meeting hosted by Chief Constable Simon Byrne, outlining various incidents in the last eight days.UTV understands that members were told that there wasn't just one single cause for the trouble, and that paramilitaries were suspected of involvement in some of it.However, violent scenes over recent nights have also been blamed on Brexit and a local response in the South East Antrim area by what police term “criminal elements” against recent drug raids.
Mrs Foster insisted she stands with police officers but said she must “call out failure”.
“Police have my full support … there is no difficulty in supporting police, we support the rule of law, it’s actually because we support the rule of law that we are so perplexed by the decision of the PPS not to prosecute those who very clearly broke the law at the Bobby Storey funeral."
The First Minister said she believes the leadership of the PSNI has “compromised itself to a point where it needs to change”.
“I support all of those police officers who are having to deal with an outrageous couple of nights of violence and I stand foursquare with them but as a political leader and as a public representative I don’t just have a right to talk about these issues, I have a duty to call out things when they are not correct,” she said.
“As the leader of unionism it is my duty to call out failure when failure is very obvious.”
Mark Lindsay, chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, voiced concern about the “lack of confidence that political leaders have in the Chief Constable”.
“The proper mechanism for that is the Policing Board, of which all political parties are represented. So they hired him two years ago and it’s up to them then to make the decision around that. Certainly our members are very disturbed around the political use of commentary that says the Chief Constable should resign,” he said.
Mrs Foster said she has spoken to police officers who feel “let down by the leadership of the PSNI”.
“I’m not speaking to the Chief Constable because first of all he hasn’t asked to speak to me, I haven’t asked to speak to him and the reason for that is if I meet the Chief Constable I will simply repeat what I said to him last Tuesday after the devastating report from the PPS for him when I said that he had lost the confidence of the unionist community and he should resign,” she said.
There have also been renewed calls for new protests around Northern Ireland. On Tuesday, a number of loyalists gathered at Antiville roundabout In Larne, holding up flags and anti-protocol signs.