Loyalist flute band claims PSNI acted in ‘bad faith’ over parades investigation

A loyalist flute band has accused the PSNI of acting in bad faith by formally investigating two parades the band claims had prior police approval.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 4:04 pm
Updated Friday, 21st May 2021, 4:57 pm
Markethill Protestant Boys Flute Band on parade in the village on May 3.

According to Markethill Protestant Boys, several band members have been summoned for police interview under caution despite an assurance “that no prosecution would occur”.

“As a band we have been the most recent focus of a two-tiered policing regime here in Northern Ireland,” a statement said.

Although a number of un-notified protests against the NI Protocol took place in the village last month, the band said it had adhered to the legal requirements when organising both its traditional annual parade, and then an event to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland.

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“On April 24 we held our annual band parade. This parade was a notified parade with approval being given from the Parades Commission. As a band we had been clear in requesting that people coming to spectate do so in a safe manner. The band maintained social distancing and completed a risk assessment for the parade.

“The PSNI accompanied and facilitated the parade following protracted discussions. At no point during any of these phone calls did the PSNI inspectors and sergeant state that this parade was illegal.”

The band added: “In fact, the exact opposite happened in that multiple PSNI officers assured us that no prosecution would occur. These assurances were given to band members and local elected representatives alike.”

The band also said that a second parade – to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland – was held on May 3 and that it also involved social-distancing. Again, we were never told at any point that this parade would be prosecuted for breaching any Covid regulations,” they said.

“A mere 10 days following this parade we started to receive a number of letters inviting band members to appear for an interview, with the view to passing the information on to the PPS. What changed in the nine days between our parades?

“Why are we being treated differently to other sections of society – namely the Sinn Fein leadership with their show of strength at the Bobby Storey funeral”.

The band said it will no longer be co-operating with the PSNI, and is withdrawing support until the “letters are rescinded”.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “A number of individuals have received letters as part of an ongoing investigation and therefore it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

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