Belfast Telegraph

Arlene Foster says Northern Ireland 'doesn't have two tier policing system but there are concerns out there'

Mrs Foster's comments come after an officer used CS spray at a Junior Orange Order parade

By Claire Williamson

First Minister Arlene Foster has denied that Northern Ireland has a two tier policing system but said there are issues that need to be addressed after a PSNI officer used CS spray at a Junior Orange Order parade.

Youngsters, aged between six and nine, were allegedly injured when police used CS gas in an incident involving officers and bandsmen at the junior Orange Order parade on Tuesday night on the Ormeau Road.

Two PSNI officers were injured as a result of the disorder.

Police have charged a 26-year-old man with two counts of assault on police and disorderly behaviour.

The PSNI defended the use of the gas, insisting it was deployed after two officers came under attack from adult band members as they tried to "move bandsmen away from brushing against parked cars".

Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said any contact that children or young people had with CS spray particles was "deeply regretted".

He insisted that the incident could have been avoided "had some bandsmen followed police directions".

Unionist politicians have said there is great anger over perceived differences in the policing of loyalist and republican events.

The CS spray controversy comes just days after dissident republicans staged illegal parades through Londonderry, Coalisland and Lurgan.

Speaking to the BBC First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster denied claims of a two tier policing system but said there are issues which need to be resolved.

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She said: "I think it is important that we establish the facts.

"I know there have been a number of people who have been making their own assessment of what happened, but I think it's important that we have independence in and around the fact-finding process and I understand that the ombudsman is now involved in this matter."

She continued: "I think the police have a very, very difficult job to do. I think it's right as politicians we ask questions, it would be wrong if we weren't able to ask questions of our police service.

"In return they answer those questions and they are monitored by the Ombudsman. So I don't think there is a two tier policing system but I do think there are concerns out there and therefore for the police and myself we need to get to the bottom of those issues."

When asked about how she felt the 1916 Easter Rising Commemorations had been carried out over the past weekend, Mrs Foster said she wanted police to deal with the masked men taking part in parades.

Further Reading

Ormeau Road Orange Order parade: PSNI full statement 

My son is too afraid to leave the house, says furious father

'Officers use spray at their discretion. It stops people by causing eyes to burn'

DUP councillor shared image of PSNI officer and branded them 'bootboys' over Junior Orange Order Parade 

She said: "Unfortunately, yet again we had masked men on the streets of Northern Ireland. They used the Easter 1916 occasion to bring out those people. The time is long gone that we should be seeing those sorts of images in Northern Ireland and I want those people dealt with.

"And I hope police have plenty of evidence and can move forward on that."

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