PSNI slammed for child riot propaganda
The PSNI has been strongly criticised for making absurd claims that children as young as seven were involved in petrol bomb attacks in Derry.
The claims followed disturbances in the aftermath of a giant parade in the city by the Apprentice Boy’s organisation, the largest parade of the Protestant marching season.
The PSNI and the mainstream media have previously sought to play down clashes over parades in recent years by blaming some on “recreational rioting” by young teenagers.
Bogside community worker Charles Lamberton, who has worked for years to pacify nationalist youths in the area, said the PSNI claim that seven-year-olds were involved in riots was “completely wrong” and “not helpful”
The PSNI later admitted the claim was false.
“Upon further enquiry police do not believe children aged seven years old threw petrol bombs,” they said.
“A number of youths were gathered but only a tiny number of these were involved in throwing petrol bombs. These actions were carried out by a very small minority.”
Earlier in the day, the main Apprentice Boys parade passed off relatively quietly amid a peaceful nationalist protest.
In Belfast, here were also separate protests by nationalist groups over Apprentice Boys ‘feeder parades’.
In north Belfast, where serious rioting erupted last month over a similar Orange Order parade, a protest by nationalist residents saw three men, including prominent activist Mairtin Og Meehan, arrested for ‘disorderly behaviour’ and other breaches of the peace.
Local Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly said the feeder parade highlighted the absurdity of such parades.
“The Apprentice Boys’ parade is in Derry but this parade actually goes in the opposite direction to march through the nationalist areas of Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales before boarding a bus to head back the other way. This is the absurdity of such a parade and to nationalists it looks like nothing more than a coat-trailing exercise.
“Thankfully this morning’s parade passed off peacefully. The Loyal Orders need to step up to the mark and engage with local residents on a face to face basis if we are to resolve these small number of contentious parades.”
There was also a small nationalist protest at a feeder parade near St Patrick’s Catholic church on the Donegall Road in south Belfast. Last month, a loyalist band was observed to march provocatively in circles outside the church in an open act of sectarianism. The protest and parade took place without incident.