Sinn Féin meet Police Ombudsman to discuss July 12th report
Sinn Féin Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile will accompany Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly to meet the Police Ombudsman this afternoon to discuss the recently published report into the 12th July parade in 2013 which passed the Short Strand.
Councillor Ó Donnghaile said,
“The report by the Police Ombudsman into the 12th July Orange Order parade past the Short Strand in 2013 did not reflect the reality of the situation on the ground. More worryingly it was carried out at the behest of senior figures within the Orange Order in East Belfast yet failed to engage with a single person from Short Strand in relation to their experience of events. This in itself puts a clear cloud over the report.
“The report fails to give any context of events prior to the parade passing; like a deliberate 50 minute delay by parade organisers thus leading to a buildup of tensions in the broader area.
“It also fails to mention, as acknowledged by the PSNI, the sectarian chanting by some associated with the parade some 15 minutes before the parade passed. The report also claims there was no police in the Short Strand during the time of the parade and that this was agreed with representatives in that area. This is patently untrue. Most worryingly the report then goes on to say that while there is no CCTV footage to support it, that attacks took place from within the grounds of St. Matthews Church.
“Such reckless statements, devoid of any evidence, inject a worrying element to this report that some have already used as justification for further disrespect and hatred to be shown towards St. Matthews Church, a place of worship.
“That these and other such inaccuracies were allowed to then be deliberately used as some type of propaganda victory in the mouth of this years Marching Season would also give cause for serious concern.
“The meeting today is to discuss the report and highlight our concerns with it. It is unacceptable that such a report would be published without to seeking to engage with all those affected, not least the homes along Strand Walk which were attacked or community workers who once again put themselves on the line and worked diligently to ensure the safety of their neighbours.
“I won't shirk from my responsibilities as an elected leader in Short Strand and made it abundantly clear that attacks did take place across the interface that day. I and my colleague Pat Sheehan were in the area and working with police and residents to try and quell any trouble. This incident should never have been used as competition about who threw what and when.
“Sinn Féin has constantly stated that the way to resolve issues surrounding parading is through dialogue with the local communities and those looking to parade.”