Belfast Telegraph

Unionists criticise PSNI for refusing to charge fleadh band

By Rebecca Black

Unionists have criticised the PSNI and Public Prosecution Service (PPS) after the force announced it would not take any action over a controversial performance by an Irish republican band at the Ardoyne Fleadh.

The Druids were recorded at the event at a north Belfast interface last month telling a crowd of 5,000 that 5,000 British soldiers and their "Orange comrades" should "f*** off back to England".

Complaints were made that the comments were a hate speech. However, a loyalist community worker said yesterday he had been told no action would be taken.

Gerald Solinas received a letter seen by the Belfast Telegraph in which Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw said the PSNI had concluded that the comments, while distasteful, "do not involve anything which could be suspected of constituting criminal conduct".

Mr Solinas reacted angrily to the response, slamming the justice system as "a total joke". The DUP, UUP and TUV also criticised it.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said it "beggars belief". He added: "In Scotland, prosecutions have been successfully pursued against those who sang the so-called Famine Song, yet the republican equivalent has been given the green light by the PSNI and PPS in Northern Ireland."

Mr Dodds said his party would challenge the decision at the Assembly and the Policing Board.

UUP Policing Board spokesman Ross Hussey said there were questions over how the decision was reached. "How they can reach this conclusion is indefensible and inexplicable," he added.

TUV councillor Jolene Bunting, who along with Mr Solinas had made a complaint to the PSNI about the band's comments, said: "Flag protesters were brought before the courts for making speeches at City Hall which where mild in comparison with the hate speech at Ardoyne. Many people will see this as more evidence of double-standards."

The PSNI said: "The PPS provided advice that no criminal offence has been committed."

Fleadh organisers said they would review their process for booking acts after last month's controversy.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph