DUP call for investigation of policing during Ormeau Road junior parade

First Minister Arlene Foster and South Belfast MLA Emma Little Pengelly First Minister Arlene Foster and South Belfast MLA Emma Little Pengelly
By Staff Reporter

The First Minister Arlene Foster has said that she is to meet with senior police officers after CS spray was used during trouble at a junior Orange parade in South Belfast.

A 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged after two police officers received minor injuries during the parade on the Ormeau Road last night.

The Junior Orange Association of Ireland were returning from an annual Easter Tuesday demonstration in Carrickfergus.

The detained man is in police custody on suspicion of criminal damage and assault on police.

Police said a PSNI motorcycle had also been damaged in the incident.

Parade organisers have denied claims by police that cars were being damaged by marchers and said that up to 20 children under the age of 10 were left with swollen lips and eyes after CS gas was deployed.

Writing on Twitter, Arlene Foster said that she has already spoken with PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton and she plans to sit down with senior police officers along with party colleague, South Belfast Councillor Chris Stalford.

South Belfast MLA Emma Little Pengelly has called for a full examination into the policing of the parade.

“There is an obligation on the PSNI to protect expressions of cultural identity and this includes Loyal Order and band parades,” she said. “This obligation extends to the need by the PSNI to protect those on, and accompanying, a parade.

“The Police Ombudsman has been notified and there must be a full examination of what took place. I will continue to liaise on the issue to ensure this happens. Anyone who was present should come forward and give information to the Police Ombudsman.”

SDLP MLA Claire Hanna called for calm ahead of marching season.

“”Police will be reviewing CCTV from various sources to corroborate officers’ report and I understand that they have given a full report to the Police Ombudsman,” she said.

“There has been a substantial amount of comment about the incident on social media, including by political representatives. Unless people were actually witness to the events they should be very circumspect about their comments.

“The wires of policing and politics should not cross and it is inappropriate for representatives to use this incident to escalate tensions before the full facts are known.

“Ormeau is an exceptionally diverse and well-integrated area and it is vital that any tensions are reduced ahead of the marching season.”