Unionists have accused Sinn Fein of attempting to stir tension in Larne, following MLA Oliver McMullan’s claim last week that band music was played “loudly” outside St MacNissi’s Roman Catholic Church when a Mass was in progress.
The Larne Times reported that the PSNI were investigating what they termed a suspected “hate crime”, arising from the alleged incident during an Apprentice Boys parade at around 9am on Saturday, August 16.
TUV alderman Jack McKee said the police response was “completely over the top”, adding that it had “ angered and insulted the unionist community and the organisers of this parade”.
He added: “I have the greatest respect for the Catholic community and believe everyone is entitled to worship without being hindered.
“The bands did not know there was Mass on at the time, and they did not slow down or play their music any louder than normal.
“I feel the police are trying to cover up their own shortcomings. If they were so concerned, they should have spoken to the organisers before the parade. There were not even any officers on duty at the time.
“Mr McMullan has also gone totally over the top with his comments.”
Larne PUP spokesman Jonathan Hodge said: “Here is another example of Mr McMullan trying to stir up tensions where people are happy to get along. Parades have passed peacefully and without incident in Larne for years, and this is testament to the respectful attitudes of people from all community backgrounds.”
He added: “It is about time Mr McMullan realised that people want to move on from the past and live together with one another peacefully.”
See more local reaction in Your Views (page 13), including a letter from a bandsman who took part in the parade, stating that bands did not play louder at the church.