‘Orwellian’ conviction of bandsmen condemned

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds called the prosecution a 'gross over-reaction'
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds called the prosecution a 'gross over-reaction'

Unionist politicians have dubbed the efforts to prosecute members of the Pride of the Ardoyne flute band as a “Orwellian” and a “waste”.

DUP MP for North Belfast Nigel Dodds was speaking after five bandsmen from the group were convicted of breaching a number of Parades Commission determinations by playing music at the north Belfast Twaddell-Ardoyne interface last year.

Mr Dodds said that the case risks damaging relations between loyalists, the PSNI and the PPS.

Branding the response of the authorities to the breaches a “gross over-reaction”, he added: “People from across the UK and beyond will be shocked at the kind of Orwellian situation that exists in Northern Ireland where it is possible you will be sent to jail for playing a musical instrument.

“Worse still that greater police resources appear to be directed to such cases than to some serious and violent crimes.”

TUV councillor Jolene Bunting said in a statement that the case “should never have been brought”.

She called the pursuit of the case a “waste” of resources, when there were other matters she felt their efforts could be directed towards.