Five members of Pride of Ardoyne Flute ban convicted of playing music in breach of Parades Commission determination

Five members of Pride of Ardoyne Flute ban convicted of playing music in breach of Parades Commission determination

DUP North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has said the conviction of five members of the Pride of Ardoyne Flute Band for playing musical instruments is a “gross over-reaction”.

And the deputy leader  compared it to a lack of action taken against others for the same offence.

All five men were convicted of breaching the determination on several occasions at the Ardoyne/Twaddell Avenue interface between February and May last year.

The men, all of whom are from north Belfast, are 26-year old James Cosby from Glenbryn Road, David Johnsone (23) from Westway Crescent, 38-year old David John Murphy from Berwick Road, 57-year old Robert Hayes Spence from Alliance Avenue and Gary Edwin Wells (24) from Loughview Close.

Mr Dodds said: ‘This case will further damage relations between the loyalist community and both the PSNI and PPS.

“People from across the United Kingdom and beyond will be shocked at the kind of Orwellian situation that exists in Northern Ireland where it is possible you will be sent to jail for playing a musical instrument.

“Worse still that greater police resources appear to be directed to such cases than to some serious and violent crimes.

“It is notable that the police were prepared to spend several days trawling through CCTV footage in order to process this prosecution.

“This stands in stark contrast to the attitude of the police to some republican parades.

“Only a few months ago the court case against the organiser of an IRA commemoration parade was dismissed because the police had not bothered to collect any video evidence of their own and obviously had not viewed any of the videos easily accessible online which showed clear and repeated breaches of the Parades Commission determination.

“On top of this a PSNI Inspector also stood before the court to say that he saw nothing during the event that gave him cause for concern.

“It would seem that much greater efforts have been expended identifying and prosecuting young men for playing musical instruments than apprehending those in Ardoyne in recent months who were attacking the police with a home-made rocket launcher, or who have been firing shots over coffins.’

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