Events surrounding the Clydevalley Flute Band at the weekend in Londonderry should concern all who value the contribution of the legitimate armed forces to peace and security in Northern Ireland and all who look for an evenhanded approach in policing.
The PSNI deems support for our lawful armed forces ‘provocative’, but has a ‘No Go’ policing policy when republicans parade in Londonderry wearing masks!
Why is it that the PSNI is so ready to turn a blind eye to paramilitary displays at republican parades, but so exercised to throw the book at the soft target of a band from Larne?
The PSNI has claimed that “there are places where space, history and symbols are contentious”.
If that is the standard to which the PSNI is operating why was there no evidence of a police presence in Strabane when Sinn Fein held a parade to celebrate IRA terrorists?
Martina Anderson screamed a Provo slogan yards from where five-month-old Alan Jack, the youngest victim of the terror campaign, was murdered by the IRA.
This caused huge offence to all right thinking people. Is she being investigated for her “provocative conduct”?
Oh no. More likely her party was calling the tune to which the PSNI danced in Londonderry last Saturday.
If a small Parachute Regiment symbol results in this aggressive reaction, what’s next?
RUC and UDR insignia?
Will the Apprentice Boys banner from Brookeborough depicting the three Graham brothers who were murdered by the PIRA be declared ‘provocative’ by the PSNI?
Is the banner remembering three off duty UDR men – one shot delivering groceries, another shot visiting his wife and five week old son and another shot driving a school bus which would have brought Roman Catholic children swimming — acceptable to those who object to the small Parachute Regiment logo displayed on Saturday?
If this issue is not robustly challenged now, be in no doubt that is the road we are heading down.
Of course, should we be surprised, given that convicted terrorists can sit on the Policing Board to which the chief constable is answerable?
It is this infection of the policing regime that is at play.
• Jim Allister QC MLA is TUV leader and North Antrim MLA