PSNI alleged to have escorted banned loyalist parade

Daily Ireland
1 Mar 2005

The PSNI yesterday refused to comment on allegations that they helped
lead a banned loyalist parade through a nationalist area in Belfast
at the weekend.
The Whitewell Defenders Flute Band applied to march on Saturday in
aid of the Tsunami disaster.
However, the Northern Ireland Parades Commission only sanctioned
their application with the stipulation the marchers did not parade
through nationalist residential streets in the Whitewell Road area of
However, on Saturday the band and a small number of followers,
including members of the right wing Combat 18 group, marched the
banned route down the nationalist Whitewell Road despite protests
from residents.
The Commission prohibited the parade from walking "on that section of
the route between the junction of Graymount Park and Gray's Lane and
the junction of Thorburn and Serpentine Roads".
However, the flute band and its followers proceeded along the Antrim
Road, passed St Gerard's Catholic Chapel and onto White City via the
Serpentine Road. They were flying a black UDA flag. Observers say
PSNI officers failed to prevent the parade from going down the banned
route and actually assisted the band through the nationalist streets.
Chief Superintendent Mike Little of the PSNI said: "Police intervened
after a suspected breach of a parades commission determination during
a parade in North Belfast on Saturday.
"Organisers of the parade," he said "have been spoken to by police
and evidence collected. Actions of the parade participants will be
reported to the DPP with a view to prosecution."
Nationalist residents and observers accuse the police of helping the
band to continue on their chosen route.
Local Sinn Féin councillor, David Kennedy claims the band were helped
by police.
"One band member told me the police told him "we'll get you up there"
and a police officer at the scene told me they didn't have enough
resources to prevent the marchers walking past their jeeps."
"The situation is a complete farce," Mr Kennedy said. "Here we had a
march that was banned and the PSNI completey ignoring the people
breaking the law. They even helped them to move away from the
approved route and marched them through nationalist areas."
The PSNI refused to comment on allegations that they assisted the
loyalist band and would not elaborate on how the band managed to
proceed on an unlawful route with police looking on.
Mr Kennedy said he and Sinn Féin will be meeting with the Parades
Commission as soon as possible.
Yesterday around 100 local residents and Sinn Féin representatives
staged a roadblock on the junction of the Whitewell and Shore Roads
to protest over the PSNI's actions.
Speaking from the blockade, local Sinn Féin councillor, Carol ní
Chuilan, said, "This simply is not good enough.
"Our party is proactive in trying to defuse tensions in this
community but then you have marches like this which only raise
tensions, especially when something goes wrong like it did here."

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