Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Sinn Fein hits out after dissidents disrupt Derry policing meeting

Sinn Fein has lashed out at dissident republicans for once again forcing the cancellation of a District Policing Partnership (DPP) meeting in Londonderry.

Dozens of protesters linked to the 32 County Sovereignty Movement used whistles and chants of ‘SS RUC’ to disrupt proceedings, forcing the DPP to call off the scheduled event at the Guildhall.

Wednesday night’s event was to discuss the effect of crime and policing on older people in the community

Sinn Fein Councillor Maeve McLaughlin, who was at the Guildhall, said: “If people genuinely have an issue with the PSNI, then standing and shouting down a meeting that is themed to help the most vulnerable and isolated in our community is not the way to deal with it.”

In a statement yesterday, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement said it had successfully challenged local politicians “as to how they could cosy up to this force who in recent times seem to have carried out a concerted campaign of harassment and intimidation on the families of republicans”.

The Derry DPP yesterday confirmed it will meet next week to agree arrangements for restaging the abandoned event.

DPP vice chair Cathy Nelis said that while the group recognised the right for everyone to express their views, it would be more constructive for the protesters to use the opportunity to address the meeting directly.

The SDLP also condemned the meeting. Foyle MP Mark Durkan said the protesters were anti-democratic: “Those who disrupt these meetings claim to want better policing and yet continue to interrupt the very mechanism put in place to deliver that. That will not be lost on the wider public.”

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “We would encourage anyone who wants to raise legitimate issues to do so in a mature and positive manner.”

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