Parade protest probed

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THE PSNI is to probe if there was any illegal activity at the St Patrick’s Day parade in Cookstown following a complaint by council chairman John McNamee about a protest.

Councillor McNamee has also made a formal complaint to the Parades Commission regarding ‘the group of individuals who were protesting on Oldtown St’.

“After receiving numerous complaints within the past week from constituents who felt threatened and intimidated by protesters some who were wearing Rangers tops, others had their face covered with scarves and a number of them were videoing bands and marchers,” he said.

“One woman actually said to me there was a well known loyalist linked to the UVF who was videoing the parade and it was intimidating.

“I have called on the police to view the CCTV footage to identify the individuals and to ensure that any videos taken be confiscated so they cannot be used for any sinister purposes.

“I have said to the Parades Commission that the protest was illegal. No application had been made to protest and the Commission has told me they will await the police report and would view the CCTV if it was deemed necessary,” he said.

Councillor McNamee was also critical of DUP MLA Ian McCrea and his response to the protest at Oldtown Street.

“I can’t imagine anyone from the nationalist community turning up to watch a Twelfth of July parade with a Celtic top and scarves covering their face.”

A spokesperson for the PSNI said: “An Ancient Order of Hibernians parade took place in Cookstown on March 17th. It was a legal parade and fully notified to the Parades Commission.

“The parade comprised 17 bands and about 600 participants, and was watched by a crowd of about 3,000 onlookers. The parade and associated celebrations passed off peacefully, with only a few minor incidents.

“The chairman of the council has raised a number of concerns with police about the conduct of a number of individuals not associated with the parade, and these are being examined to determine if any illegal activity took place,” said the spokesperson.