Baggott Agrees Illegal Parading Meeting

There's to be a showdown over the way in which the police has been allowing illegal republican parades to take place in the North - while at the same time cracking down on Loyal Order events to make sure they follow the letter of the law under Parading legislation.

A delegation of DUP politicians will be meeting the PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott on Thursday where they will question the response of the PSNI to those who hold illegal parades in Northern Ireland.

Concerns have been raised following a recent dissident republican parade in Lurgan and how the police response to these parades differs to the onerous restrictions placed upon Loyal Order parades.

Upper Bann MLA Stephen Moutray, the Chair of the Stormont Justice Committee, Lord Morrow and NI Policing Board members Jimmy Spratt MLA, Alastair Ross MLA and Ian McCrea MLA will all take part.

Stephen Moutray said this week: "There have been concerns raised about how the response of both the Parades Commission and police differs between the handling of republican and Loyal Order parades.

"On Sunday the police were obviously aware that the republican parade in Lurgan was illegal yet there appears to have been absolutely no action taken against participants or organisers.

"This is in stark comparison to the operations which are put into place against Loyal Order parades," he said.

"We will be questioning the Chief Constable about how many convictions have been secured against those participating in illegal parades in recent years.

"If action has been taken by the police, this needs to be communicated to the public as many people believe a blind eye is being turned to illegal parades," the MLA continued.

"Inconsistencies such as this simply fuels resentment amongst law-abiding citizens and they continue to demonstrate the fact that current arrangements for dealing with parades have failed miserably," he said, "all we want is a fair and equitable approach by the police."

On Monday, members of the leading loyal order are said to be frustrated over an illegal march in Co Armagh yesterday and news of 'zero' prosecutions or cautions for those participating in any such illegal parades.

The Orange Order described this as a "major shift" in policy, which they said, is causing huge frustration among law-abiding Orangemen.

The outcry came as around 200 republicans ignored police warnings as they held a march that called for the release from prison of double murderer Martin Corey during a march in Lurgan from the Kilwilkie estate to Taghnevan.

Having blocked off the roads into the town centre, the police filmed those involved. There were no confrontations during a fairly low-key security operation.

Ulster Unionist Assembly candidate for Upper Bann, Colin McCusker also went on the record to comment: "It is scandalous that this illegal parade was permitted to walk from Kilwilkie to Taghnevan, a route of some two miles.

"As the Parades Commission have washed their hands of this parade, the PSNI are duty bound to ensure those taking part in this very public exercise of law breaking are brought to book - we must see prosecutions," he said, also on Monday.

See: Police 'Allowed Illegal Republican Parade'


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