Row over band parade rumbles on as police confirm ‘no crime was committed’

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Police say they have found no evidence of a criminal offence following a claim that a band played loud music outside a Roman Catholic church .

However, the political fall-out continues over the alleged “hate incident” on August 9, as an Apprentice Boys parade passed passed St MacNissi’s Catholic church in the town.

An initial statement from the PSNI indicated it was being dealt with as a ‘hate incident’.

However, a subsequent statement indicated that “no crime was detected”.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson, who was part of a delegation of unionist representatives who met with PSNI Area Commander Stephen McCauley last week, claimed that Sinn Fein MLA Oliver McMullan was the sole complainant behind the alleged incident.

However, Mr McMullan claimed he was aware of a number of other complaints that had been made via confidential service Crimestoppers.

Although a PSNI spokesperson indicated that the police do not have access to the number of complaints made to Crimestoppers, they were unable to confirm if Mr McMullan was the only person who had made a complaint directly to police.

Mr Wilson went on to criticise the police for “giving credence” to Mr McMullan’s complaint by confirming a hate incident was being investigated.

Accusing the Sinn Fein representative of making “unfounded” allegations over the band’s behaviour, Mr Wilson added that he, with TUV councillor Ruth Wilson and PUP representative Bill Adamson, expressed anger that the police had given credence to a Sinn Fein campaign “to try to blacken all loyalist parades and events” by indicating that they were treating the allegations as a potential hate incident and were asking people to come forward with evidence.”

Mr Wilson added: “We pointed out that we believed the complaint made by Oliver McMullan was all part of the Sinn Fein campaign to create contentious parades so that the Parades Commission could find excuses to place restrictions on loyalist parades.”

Responding to Mr Wilson’s remarks, Mr McMullan indicated he would also be seeking a meeting with the Area Commander.

He maintained: “The behaviour of the bands outside a Catholic church was unacceptable and no amount of distraction by Sammy Wilson and other unionist representatives can change that fact.”

He added: “I am aware of several people who have made complaints to the PSNI through the confidential phone line due to fear of reprisal attacks if they went public, as has happened before.

“When I raised the issue of tensions between unionist paramilitaries in Larne Sammy Wilson accused me of scaremongering, yet within weeks there was a full scale riot between the warring factions in Larne.

“The unionist politicians refused to sign up to the Haass proposals and walked out of the meeting designed to deal with parades and flags and this is the only way in which we will deal with the issue.

“If Sammy and his coalition are really serious about improving community relations in Larne, will he now sit down with Sinn Fėin and others to draw up a strategy to improve community relations in the future? I am also asking for an urgent meeting with the local area commander of the PSNI to discuss the parade as there are several issues that need to be resolved.”