I was aghast at the comments from ACC Stephen Martin on BBC TalkBack today.
Whilst technically he is correct there is no criminal offence of wearing a mask per se, he failed to mention that PSNI have powers of arrest if there is the potential for offences.
Under section 23A of the Public Order Northern Ireland Order 1987 a PSNI superintendent can issue an order that requires persons to remove farcical coverings if they believe there is the potential for offences to be committed.
Following the issuing of authorisation by a superintendent under section 23A, powers of arrest for non-compliance are then conferred upon police.
In the various illegal dissident republican parades over Easter not only was there the clear potential for criminal offences, including incitement and terrorist offences, but many of the parades were actually actively breaching the law by either breaching Parades Commission determinations or being unnotified public processions.
Quite why a superintendent would not think it was appropriate to issue an order under section 23A for facial coverings in an illegal dissident republican parade is beyond me.
The PSNI found it suitable to invoke section 23A for peaceful and lawful Union flag protests but took no such action to invoke section 23A against an illegal dissident republican terror fest!