Following an incident in which CS gas was used at a Junior Orange parade in south Belfast, the PSNI have released the following statement, posted here in full:
Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said: “After a busy day of successful and peaceful events across Belfast, unfortunately an incident towards the end of the day, which could have been avoided had some bandsmen followed police directions, has become the news headline.
“Following this incident a 26 year old man has been arrested and charged with disorderly behaviour and two counts of assault on police so we are limited with the amount of detail we can discuss.
“Our investigation into this incident is ongoing and following standard procedure, the Police Ombudsman has also been informed regarding the use of CS incapacitant spray and we will co-operate fully with their enquiries.
“What we can say is that two police officers, one on a motorcycle, were in attendance at a band parade in the Ormeau Road area of South Belfast on Tuesday 29 March.
“Just after 5.10pm, police spoke with parade organisers about some band members who were walking in amongst parked cars and traffic. A police officer then asked the band members to step back but they simply disregarded his requests.
“At that point one of the officers tried to move bandsmen away from brushing against parked cars when he came under attack by a section of the band.
“The other officer got off his motorcycle to assist his colleague when he was also attacked and the police motorbike damaged.
“Due to the number of people attacking the officers, they defended themselves with their batons. CS incapacitant spray was directed only on the people attacking them and the incident was brought under control. The two officers received minor injuries.
“Shortly after, a 26 year old man was arrested. He has since been charged with disorderly behaviour and two counts of assault on police.
“The use of CS incapacitant spray is tightly scrutinised within the PSNI and officers use their judgement when it comes to a graduated response to any threat that they may come under. As is standard procedure, the Police Ombudsman has been informed in regard to the use of CS incapacitant spray. We welcome the Ombudsman’s investigation and we will co-operate fully with their enquiries.
“Any subsequent contact any children or young people had with CS spray particles is deeply regretted.
“Senior colleagues were in communication with community representatives and politicians last night following the incident and I would be happy to meet with any band members, organisers or anyone in the local community who have concerns about this incident in the days ahead.”