A civil liberties group has expressed concern after the organiser of a republican paraade was banned from entering Derry city by the PSNI police.
Antrim town-based republican Paddy Murray helped organised the first ever republican band parade in Ballymena, County Antrim, earlier this month. The small but controversial parade, which was held in support of the release of a dissident republican prisoner, was struck by loyalist violence.
Mr Murray and several passengers were stopped at a PSNI roadblock on the outskirts of Derry city last Saturday as he made his way to Letterkenny in County Donegal.
The Antrim man was told he had been pulled over under the Road Traffic Act when stopped at the road block on Saturday. However, within minutes of being detained, more PSNI men arrived at the scene supported by British soldiers, according to Mr Murray.
The former Sinn Fein man says his car was then searched under special legislation before a PSNI officer told him he was being "excluded" from Derry city.
"At no time was I asked where I was going. As it happens, I was travelling to Letterkenny and told them I would take an alternative route bypassing Derry to get there. But this was not acceptable.
"The policeman told me that my car would be escorted back to Ballymena by four police cars, two in front and two at the back. I don't even come from Ballymena; I'm from Antrim. I was told that if I deviated from the route I would be arrested and my car impounded."
After meeting with his lawyer yesterday, the republican says he will seek a judicial review of the PSNI's bid to ban him from Derry.
Maggie O'Connor from the Committee on the Administration of Justice voiced her concern about the incident.
"The situation in which somebody should be in the position of having their rights of freedom of expression and association limited should be very narrowly interpreted by the state and it would be very concerning that somebody has been stopped and not given a reason or explanation."
Dozens of unionist paramilitary bands marched through a mainly nationalist County Antrim village on Wednesday night under the protection of the PSNI police.
Nationalists in Rasharkin last night protested against the parade by the Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band.
At least 20 PSNI Land Rovers flooded the area, some fitted with camera equipment.
The Parades Commission imposed no overall restrictions on the march.
The Rasharkin Residents' Association had applied to the Parades Commission for 150 protesters to line the parade route. The commission restricted numbers to 100 people.
Nationalists had urged that tougher conditions should have been imposed on the parade, which was accompanied by drunken loyalist supporters.
As the parade started, Rasharkin Sinn Fein councillor Daithi McKay said: "Given the present environment of sectarian attacks on Catholics and nationalists in north Antrim, this was the last thing needed here."
NORTH BELFAST WARNING
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly has called for the Parades Commission to pay a constructive role in keeping interface tensions down when approaching upcoming marches by the
Tensions are already very high in north Belfast given the rise in sectarian attacks against the nationalist community and the events surrounding the loyalist Tour of the North and the Twelfth of July marches. Aftewr the provocative parades were forced through nationalist communities, the PSNI resorted again to attacking the nationalist community in Ardoyne, Carrickhill and Whitewell.
"There is a strong onus on the loyal orders to move away from controversial and confrontational applications for marching and engage in dialogue with nationalist residents," said Kelly. "This applies especially to interface areas such as Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales along with the Whitewell Road.
"In the absence of this we are calling on the Parade Commission to make careful and sensitive determinations surrounding the upcoming marches. They have a role to play in keeping interface tensions down while also not rewarding those who refuse to engage with local residents in attempts to resolve the issues surrounding loyalist marches."
MAIN BLACK PARADE FOR DONEGAL
Residents from a village in County Donegal yesterday called for dialogue with the organisers of the first ever Black Preceptory parade to be held in the area.
Nationalists from the small town of Raphoe near Letterkenny say they are not opposed to the march but are angry they were not consulted before the decision to hold it was taken.
Up to 10,000 Black Preceptory members, their supporters and around 40 bands are expected to converge on the village on August 27 for the most important date in the Preceptory's marching calendar.
Bands will parade through the main street in the village before meeting in a field adjacent to three housing estates.
This is the first time Raphoe has played host to the annual Black Preceptory parade which is normally held in Derry or another major town in the north.
There is confusion and fear among residents, who are baffled by the order's motivation in holding the parade across the border.
During a recent meeting with gardai, residents were at pains to stress they did not object to the Black Preceptory march, or what it stands for, but sought assurances from the Garda that the event will be policed and safe.
REPUBLICAN PARADE CANCELLED
Meanwhile, plans by a republican pipe band to hold a parade through Limavady next month have been cancelled. The Kevin Lynch pipe band called off the march following negotiations with community activists in the mixed County Derry town.