Belfast Telegraph

Flute band repeats its support for Soldier F at Ballymoney

Defiant: the flute band’s insignia
Defiant: the flute band’s insignia
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

A flute band which wore Parachute Regiment insignia during the Apprentice Boys parade in Londonderry last month was defiant as it also displayed the symbol at a parade in Ballymoney on Saturday.

Members of Clyde Valley Flute Band, who also had the letter 'F' displayed on the sleeves of their uniforms to show support for Soldier F, took part in the annual Royal Black Institution's 'Last Saturday' parade.

The former paratrooper is facing prosecution for two murders and four attempted murders at Bloody Sunday.

Saturday's parades took place in Ballygowan, Ballymoney, Dungannon, Holywood, Garvagh and Seskinore.

Around 17,000 members and 350 preceptories were expected to take part, along with bands.

The Belfast Telegraph contacted both the Royal Black Institution and the solicitors of the band regarding Saturday's parade, but did not receive a response.

Police officers had surrounded the Larne band as it made its way through the Waterside area of Londonderry during August's Apprentice Boys parade in order to prevent a breach of the peace.

Members of the band were also stopped by police for two hours as their bus made its way back to their home town.

Following the parade the Apprentice Boys of Derry apologised for any offence caused by the band's insignia, saying: "We recognise that this may have caused upset to many in the nationalist community."

The PSNI has since said that a review would take place into its operation involving the band, while DUP leader Arlene Foster said they were entitled to wear the symbol as a matter of freedom of speech.

Meanwhile, bands from across Northern Ireland and as far afield as Scotland will gather at the start of October in a show of solidarity with the band.

A parade and rally will be held in Larne to show support for the group which has found itself at the centre of the political storm.

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