SF blame PSNI on march breach

Sinn Féin’s David Kennedy has said that he was appalled by the blatant breach of Parade Commission rules at last weekend’s march by a loyalist flute band.
“This parade was a complete farce. What we had here was a filing for a loyalist march couched under the term of a tsunami fundraiser, which was quite clearly trying to set a precedent for marching in the area,” said David Kennedy.
“However, what we had, as on similar occasions, was the PSNI showing complete disregard for anything the Commission states.
“It was the PSNI who bear responsibility for diverting this march and pushing loyalist bandsmen through a nationalist community and up the Whitewell Road – a road that wasn’t in the original application.
“The PSNI’s weak excuse that they didn’t have resources is completely exposed when the same amount of PSNI officers were then able to stop the band returning back down.
“Nationalist residents are angry that this was allowed to take place and Sinn Féin will be meeting with the Parades Commission at the earliest possible date to raise this very serious issue.”
The Whitewell Defenders parade was prohibited by the Parades Commission from walking between Graymount Park and Gray’s Lane and the junction of Thorburn Road and Serpentine Road.
The PSNI confirmed the whole event was video taped and would be reporting the actions of those involved in the ‘suspected breach of the Commission’s determination’ to the DPP with a view to prosecution. The PSNI also denied allegations it had forced the band to deviate from the approved route.
The Police Ombudsman has since received a complaint about last Saturday’s parade, which was organised by the loyalist band in order to raise money for the tsunami appeal.
John Montgomery said he had registered a complaint to the Ombudsman, claiming that the PSNI changed the route and forced the band down the Whitewell Road to get to the White City estate.
“We had met with the police last week and had been told by the Parades Commission that once the band had broken up at Graymount, the bandsmen and the followers would be allowed to return to White City via Gray’s Lane.
“Everything was going fine until we were told we were not allowed to walk down Gray’s Lane. A stand-off then ensued before we finally had to walk along the Whitewell Road. We had no choice, we had to go home that way.”
And John Montgomery of the UPRG said that the money the bandsmen managed to raise for the tsunami appeal has yet to be counted.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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