East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said
“Saturdays Apprentice Boys parade passed off very peacefully despite several dissident republican attempts to exacerbate tensions both close to the parade route at the Diamond and at the Foyleside Shopping Centre.
There were specific policing actions which our Policing Board representatives will be demanding answers to. The first one was a police request to establish if a banner erected in the Fountain estate could be taken down. The senior officer who made the inquiry assumed the banner included a reference to ‘Soldier F’. When asked if he had seen the banner he admitted he had not. There was no reference whatsoever to soldier F on the banner, indeed I and a number of colleagues ensured that we were photographed at the banner and it was circulated on social media on Saturday lunchtime to ensure the accuracy of what the banner contained was verified.
The second issue involved a band that had a small insignia of the parachute regiment on their uniform, but an over the top Policing operation appeared to be put in place to ‘encircle’ the band as they took part in the parade. Another Policing operation then took place some 7 miles outside Londonderry as the bus with band members on the way home was stopped and demands made that all band members supply their names and addresses to the Police. I understand this led to two hours of protracted discussions and only ended with the police accepting the names of several band representatives and the bus was then allowed to proceed on its way.
Given that there did not appear to be a suggestion of an offence being committed it is incredulous that an operation like this took place on the week that Police were perceived to have tamely walked away from a bonfire site in a republican area of North Belfast where there was obvious law breaking in evidence.
It is absolutely essential that the rationale for Policing operations is seen to be justifiable and even handed irrespective of the location, or of those being subjected to the police actions “
East Antrim representatives Sammy Wilson MP, David Hilditch MLA and Gordon Lyons MLA said:
“The actions of the PSNI in Londonderry towards the Clyde Valley Flute Band have caused a huge amount of anger and ill will towards the PSNI. The heavy handedness of the police was completely unwarranted and unjustified and there are many questions that the police will have to answer. We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Chief Constable and will put these questions to him directly.”
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