Concern over policing of Larne flute band in Londonderry raised with Chief Constable

Clyde Valley Flute Band taking part in the Apprentice Boys parade.
Clyde Valley Flute Band taking part in the Apprentice Boys parade.

Concern over the PSNI operation in connection with the Clyde Valley Flute Band in Londonderry last month has been raised at the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

During Thursday’s session, Foyle DUP member Gary Middleton MLA asked Chief Constable Simon Byrne whether he felt the policing in place on the day was appropriate.

In response, Mr Byrne said it was “regrettable we are where we are” but added “we need to get the total understanding of the facts”.

Speaking afterwards Mr Middleton said: “There is still a significant level of anger within the community at the policing operation during the Apprentice Boys parade. Confidence in the PSNI has been damaged as a result, and it is important that this is restored.

“Important lessons must be understood by the police. I welcome that the Chief Constable has committed to a review of the practices from that day by introducing an independent review of the policing operation.

“The circumstances for which people including children were held on a bus for two and a half hours, with no specific reason why, is highly regrettable.”

“Now it is important that the Police review the circumstances surrounding Clyde Valley Band and the Apprentice Boys parade so that the good relations that had been built over many years, between the Apprentice Boys, the PSNI and the community are not diminished in any way.”

The Larne-based band wore shirts with a Parachute Regiment emblem and the letter ‘F’ – in support of a former soldier facing murder charges over the deaths of two men on Bloody Sunday - during the Relief of Derry parade. Police officers flanked the band and later stopped their bus and took the names of some members.

In the wake of this, unionist politicians met with senior PSNI officers to voice concern. Police,in turn, defended their response on the day.

The band, also known as The Gun Runners, stated it was fully co-operating with the PSNI but was consider making a complaint to the Police Ombudsman’s office following what it described as the “unlawful detention” of its members.