Sinn Féin’s Philip McGuigan has called for urgent meetings with both the Police Ombudsman and the Parades Commission after six nationalists were injured in clashes with the PSNI during a unionist paramilitary parade.
The trouble broke out as the PSNI forced the parade through a mainly nationalist part of Ballymena last week without the consent of residents.
One man needed hospital treatment after his head was split open by a baton. The man was later arrested and charged with disorderly behaviour. Another man was bitten by a PSNI dog.
“This was a violent, provocative, intimidating and sectarian series of attacks against nationalist bystanders,” said local Sinn Féin representative Philip McGuigan.
The Sinn Féin politician was himself verbally abused and kicked by the PSNI. He said he intends to complain to the Police Ombudsman’s office about the PSNI actions which he described as “reminiscent of the scenes at Burntollet during the early civil rights campaign”.
The trouble broke out as PSNI members in armoured Land Rovers blocked roads running alongside All Saints Catholic Church and began attacking nationalist residents with batons.
The violence began as the ‘Pride of the Maine’ loyalist band from Ballymena emerged onto Market Street.
“The PSNI started to push and haul at a number of residents and when I and a number of colleagues tried to intervene, a PSNI member ran out of the crowd and kicked me and told me to ‘Fuck Off you Fenian bastard’.”
Senior members of both the UVF and UDA were also observed filming nationalist residents during the triumphalist march.
“This is a very worrying development for nationalists in this area. Senior loyalist paramilitaries were able to record the faces of local residents unhindered by the PSNI,” he said.
Sinn Féin’s Philip McGuigan has called for urgent meetings with both the Police Ombudsman and the Parades Commission.
“I will be asking the Ombudsman to investigate what I can only describe as the sectarian brutality of the PSNI against nationalist residents on Saturday night and I am also going to ask the Parades Commission observers who witnessed the assaults for their reports.”