Boy (16) suspected of at least 20 offences after car drove through loyalist band parade is freed on bail

The PSNI have released a boy suspected of driving into an oncoming band parade on bail.

Sunday, 19th September 2021, 10:50 am
Updated Sunday, 19th September 2021, 1:59 pm

It came after the force moved to dispel claims that the incident was a sectarian attack.

The drama unfolded at about 8.40pm on Friday night, when a black Seat Leon failed to stop for police, who were on duty in connection with the parade in the village of Rathfriland.

The car then mounted the pavement and drove through the ranks of the band on Newry Street.

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Footage of the incident

Drums can be heard clattering to a halt as the vehicle made its way into the group of musicians.

One man aged in his 40s and one man aged in his 30s received what police described as “minor injuries” in the incident.

The bands involved were Star of Down from Maghera, and Downshire Guiding Star, from the Banbridge area.

The teenager was arrested on suspicion of the following raft of offences:

> Six counts of dangerous driving

> Six counts for failing to stop for police

> Aggravated taking and driving away

> Disqualified driving

> No insurance

> Three counts of failing to stop and report and remain at an injury scene

> Two counts of common assault

The PSNI have also indicated that this is not even the full list of crimes, adding that he was held over “other related offences” too.

Then, at midday on Sunday, the PSNI said he had been freed on police bail “pending further enquiries”.

Videos of the incident have been widely circulated online, alongside comments which claim that it was a deliberate sectarian attack – a refrain repeated by a number of local politicians.

However a statement from Barney O’Connor, the PSNI Chief Inspector for the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon district, had said: “At this stage, we are not investigating a sectarian hate crime motive in relation to this incident.

“Our officers are continuing to robustly investigate the circumstances of this incident. Officers have already spoken to a number of those present and I know this has been alarming for all those involved.

“I would like to thank those in the community and those involved from the band, who have already come forward, for their cooperation and assistance.”

The UUP said that occupants of a separate car had been “hurling sectarian abuse”, and that bandsmen deserve credit “for showing good discipline and not responding to this narrow-minded nonsense”.

Downshire Guiding Star said: “We’ve been inundated with messages, but by some miracle everyone is ok.”

Meanwhile the Star of Down posted a message promising not to be deterred, saying: “The Star of Down family are glad that everyone involved somehow escaped injury, and wish to thank Moneyslane for hosting us this evening, and look forward to returning next year.”

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