DUP warn PSNI over republican parade

Last year's parade led to a heavy police presence in Belfast
Last year's parade led to a heavy police presence in Belfast

Unionists have warned that the PSNI must not police a dissident republican parade in Belfast this weekend more leniently than loyalist events.

Their warning came after the DUP and Sinn Fein both met PSNI over the matter yesterday.

Sunday’s anti-internment parade is due to start in Ardoyne, parade into the city centre and then up the Falls Road.

Parade organisers on social media appear to call for supporters to break the Parades Commission determination by assembling several hours later than approved.

The DUP’s Nelson McCausland MLA, Gavin Robinson MP and William Humphrey MLA met yesterday with ACC Stephen Martin and Belfast District Commander Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw on the matter.

After the meeting Mr McCausland said: “Whether in Belfast, Lurgan, Castlederg or Londonderry concerns have been raised that the police have not been sufficiently robust in enforcing determinations and gathering evidence at republican parades.

“There must be no two-tier approach when it comes to policing parades and protests, including the dissident republican parade on Sunday.”

They said the DUP was “very disappointed” yesterday that the PSNI was unable to give any fresh information about investigations into a recent INLA show-of-strength parade in Londonderry.

Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin described the separate DUP and Sinn Fein meetings as “constructive”.

“An appropriate and proportionate policing operation will be put in place to ensure, as far as possible, that this determination is upheld, as we do for all parades,” he said.

“I am urging the organisers and people taking part in parading or protesting on Sunday to be responsible and ensure their behaviour is peaceful and within the law.

“If people choose to break the law or breach Parades Commission determinations we will ensure that everything possible is done to bring those responsible before the courts and face the consequences of their actions.”

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly appealed for all parades determinations this weekend to be peacefully respected. “At today’s meeting we made it clear that policing of all parades and protests should be even handed and consistent, whether it is for nationalist or loyal order parades.”