Blair says criticism of police response to flute band incident risks fuelling false notions

Alliance Policing Board member John Blair MLA has said unionist parties criticising the police response to a flute band who wore Parachute Regiment insignia at a parade in Derry-Londonderry risks undermining the work of the PSNI and fuelling false notions of two-tier policing.

Mr Blair was speaking after the DUP and UUP met with police following the incident at the weekend, when Clyde Valley Flute band from Larne wore the symbol and the letter F at the Apprentice Boys parade in the city this past weekend. Police officers escorted the flute band during it and later stopped their bus.

“It is vital everyone in our society supports policing and the rule of law,” said Mr Blair.

“The way the DUP and UUP are approaching the police response to this incident and their public comments surrounding it are fuelling false perceptions of two-tier policing in which one side of the community is treated differently.

“Our society has come a long way with the new beginning to policing. Accountability is vital to policing but politicians need to be careful not to cross over to undermining policing. The DUP and UUP need to acknowledge this one band were wrong to parade with Parachute Regiment insignia in Derry-Londonderry, given the context and legacy of Bloody Sunday.

“Such politically opportunistic actions are not helpful to policing across the community, particularly given other recent events. Politicians should know better than play to the gallery at times when sensitivities are to the fore.”