Belfast Telegraph

Police investigating symbols displayed by band in Apprentice Boys parade - five arrests

Apprentice Boys march on the Derry Walls, Saturday 10th August 2019. Picture Trevor McBride
Apprentice Boys march on the Derry Walls, Saturday 10th August 2019. Picture Trevor McBride
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

Police have confirmed that they are investigating the behaviour of and symbols displayed by a band who took part in the annual Apprentice Boys parade in Londonderry on Saturday.

It comes after a local Sinn Fein councillor called for answers amid claims that Larne's Clyde Valley Flute Band was allowed to march in the parade wearing "symbols relating to Soldier F".

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said that the band had a "a small insignia of the Parachute Regiment on their uniform".

Sinn Fein's Christopher Jackson said that it was unacceptable that a flute band were allowed to march through Derry wearing the symbols.

Pictures circulated on social media show a band taking part in the parade while surrounded by a heavy police presence.

Police said that they are "investigating the behaviour and symbols displayed by one band".

Five people were arrested in Derry on Saturday on suspicion of public disorder offences.

"We'll work with the event organisers to examine the issues from today's parade," the PSNI said in a Tweet.

Police said they will be forwarding a report to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) in relation to the matter.

Police also confirmed that a number of individuals would be reported to the PPS over an "unnotified protest" held by dissident republican group Saoradh during the parade.

Saoradh protest on Shipquay Street Derry against the Apprentice Boys parade on the Derry Walls. Picture Trevor McBride.
Saoradh protest on Shipquay Street Derry against the Apprentice Boys parade on the Derry Walls. Picture Trevor McBride.

East Londonderry MP Mr Campbell said that questions had been raised by the police actions during the parade.

He alleged that police had wanted to remove a banner from the Fountain Estate after assuming it made reference to 'Soldier F' which it did not.

Mr Campbell said that an "over the top policing operation appeared to be put in place to encircle the band as they took part in the parade".

He also claimed that a bus containing members of the band were stopped outside Derry and band members were asked to supply their names and addresses to police.

"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," the veteran unionist said.

"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."

DUP representatives including MP Gregory Campbell and MLAs Gary Middleton and Edwin Poots pose under a banner in Londonderry's Fountain Estate on Saturday.
DUP representatives including MP Gregory Campbell and MLAs Gary Middleton and Edwin Poots pose under a banner in Londonderry's Fountain Estate on Saturday.

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson said that police action was "not proportionate".

"Police should not be swayed by any political pressure to take action," the DUP representative said.

"The action by the police was totally unjustified. There is nothing illegal about supporting any regiment in our armed forces. We will be seeking answers from the police about how this was allowed to develop.”

Sinn Fein councillor Christopher Jackson said that the band should not have been allowed to march in the parade in the first place.

“The PSNI and the organisers must explain why, after giving an assurance that no provocative symbols would not be tolerated, this band were allowed to march on the parade," he said.

“This is a deliberate attempt to stir up tension and to hurt the families of the Bloody Sunday victims.  

“Sinn Fein will be raising this incident with the Parades Commission and the police to ensure it does not happen again.”

Soldier F has been charged with the murders of two men and the attempted murders of four others in Derry on Bloody Sunday.

He is set to appear at court in the city next month.

Thousands of Apprentice Boys marched through the city to commemorate the ending of the siege of Derry in August 1689.

The event is known as the 'Relief of Derry' parade.

The PSNI has been contacted in relation to this story.

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