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'Soldier F' band members reported to PPS over 2019 Derry march

‘Soldier F band should not return to Derry’

Clyde Valley Flute Band shirt with parachute regiment insignia and letter F

Charges could be brought against three members of a loyalist band who wore Parachute Regiment insignia and Soldier F logos at a parade in Derry last year.

The Derry News has learned that the PSNI has reported the band members to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) in relation to suspected public order offences.

The PPS is now considering whether there is enough evidence to bring the matter before the courts.

The revelation comes almost a year after the Clyde Valley Flute Band from Larne wore a uniform in support of the British soldier at the annual ‘Relief of Londonderry’ parade on August 10, 2019.

Thirteen people were shot dead when members of the British Army's Parachute Regiment opened fire on civil rights demonstrators on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972.  The death of another man four months later was attributed to his injuries.

An ex-paratrooper, known as Soldier F, is charged with murdering Jim Wray (22) and William McKinney (27).

He's also charged with attempting to murder Patrick O'Donnell, Joseph Friel, Joe Mahon and Michael Quinn, as well as attempting to murder a number of persons unknown.

At the August 10 parade last year police officers flanked the Clyde Valley band to ‘prevent a breach of the peace’ and later stopped their bus, taking the names of several members.

In the days following the march, DUP MP Gregory Campbell described as ‘incredulous’ the policing operation and said there was ‘no suggestion’ of offences having been committed.

DUP MLA Gary Middleton also welcomed an independent review of police practices on the day saying there was a ‘significant level of anger’ in the unionist community.

However, since last August the PSNI has maintained that an investigation has been ‘ongoing’.

This week the police confirmed that a file has been handed over to the PPS in relation to the Clyde Valley Flute Band’s actions on the day.

In a statement to the Derry News, a Public Prosecution Service (PPS) spokesperson confirmed that ‘three suspects’ are being considered for prosecution.

She said: “The PPS received a file on 15 January 2020 in relation to an alleged incident on 10 August 2019.

“Three suspects reported by police are being considered by prosecutors in relation to public order offences.

“Further information has been requested from PSNI and once this is received, decisions will issue in due course after a thorough consideration of all available evidence.”

BACKGROUND

In the lead up to the march on August 10, DUP representatives including East Derry MP Gregory Campbell, Foyle MLA Gary Middleton and Derry City & Strabane District Councillor Graham Warke stood under a Parachute Regiment banner in the Fountain estate in support of ‘our British soldiers’.

Then Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney, amongst others, accused the DUP of ‘provocation’ and ‘pandering to loyalists’.

Before the march it had been agreed that no provocative symbols would be on display, according to parade negotiators, businessman Garvan O'Doherty and Donncha MacNiallais of the Bogside Residents’ Group.

However, General Secretary of the Apprentice Boys of Derry, Billy Moore said it was ‘nonsense’ to suggest that any agreement was in place before the march.

During the march the PSNI intervened to escort the Clydevalley Flute Band from Larne around the main parade, however, it was prevented from taking part in the return leg. 

The band’s bus was stopped by the PSNI on the way home.

Afterwards, Bloody Sunday families said they were ‘disgusted’ and felt it was a deliberate attempt to antagonise them.

They said the band should never be allowed to march in the city again.

Following the march the DUP described the policing operation as ‘heavy handed’ and ‘over the top’.

They said it ‘angered’ the unionist community and along with members of the UUP met PSNI officials to question the police response.

First Minister Arlene Foster also said ‘people have the right’ to support Soldier F.

Disorder followed in the Bogside during which petrol bombs were thrown at Apprentice Boys’ memorial hall and the City Walls. 

Several days later the Apprentice Boys of Derry offered an apology saying that it recognised the potential upset caused to nationalists.

Families of the victims of Bloody Sunday then had a ‘cordial and constructive’ meeting with the Apprentice Boys with a view to restoring positive relations in the city.

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Derry Now editorial team on 028 7129 6600 for Derry City stories Or 028 7774 3970 for County Derry stories. Or you can email editor@derrynews.net or editor@derrypost.com at any time.


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