DUP to call for illegal loyalist protesters to be prosecuted?

Mark has hit on something with his illegal parade post earlier today. The DUP have a very recent track record of lobbying the PSNI for charges to be brought against individuals involved in illegal parades, as I will outline below. Logically, then, should we be expecting support from these quarters for prosecutions against those involved in today’s illegal loyalist parade?

Here’s the DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt following a meeting with PSNI Chief Constable, Matt Baggott concerning illegal republican parades (27th January 2011)

“There is a perception that the Police are treating illegal republican parades differently from Loyal Order parades. We made it quite clear to the Chief Constable that more must be done to ensure to bring forward prosecutions, but similarly the police need to more effectively communicate when charges are brought forward relating to some of these parades.”

More intriguingly, fellow DUP senior figure, Lord Morrow, made the following pronouncements after the same meeting:

The Chief Constable was left in no doubt that the Police must act against those who deliberately flout the law, as was witnessed in Lurgan on Sunday or Galbally last year. DUP members of the policing Board will be following up on the police response to a number of these parades where we have raised concerns that interviews have not even been held in order to prepare any file for prosecution.

 Even if the police were to recommend prosecutions in many cases they would not be taken forward by the PPS because they do not deem them to be in the public interest. If the parade is deemed to be “peaceful” then this makes it even less likely that prosecutions will ensue. This raises the question about the threat of violence and what influence a threat of violence has on police action.

Here’s DUP MLA Stephen Moutray calling for anyone involved in an illegal republican parade in Lurgan earlier this year to be prosecuted:

Stephen Moutray, of the DUP, said he was “deeply concerned” at news of a rally he described as “the latest in a number of illegal parades in Lurgan in the past year”.

The Lurgan MLA said he would be “watching the reaction of the police” and added: “Police will have ample opportunity to identify the people involved and where there is evidence to bring charges, then they must be brought.”

Given that the BBC interviewed DUP councillor Christopher Stalford at the illegal protest, we know that at least one DUP elected representative was in attendance.

All of which begs the question: will the PSNI act impartially and pursue those involved in the illegal parade in the same manner that they have pursued others involved in similar actions from the nationalist/republican community?

It is an important question, not least because the impartiality of the PSNI is crucial to encouraging support for that organisation as it continues to be under pressure from dissident republican attacks.

  • “will the PSNI act impartially”

    Chris, has it not (yet) dawned on SF and the DUP that these decisions might not be left to the PSNI? Perhaps a Slugger blogger could explore ongoing ‘political policing’ here.

  • Just to clarify the legal contexts. When a parade is not ‘notified’ to the police and referred to the Parades Commission it is termed ‘illegal’. It is at this point nothing to do with the Parades Commission.

    Talking here about ‘parades’ and not ‘protest’ being relatively static or riots arising from parade/protest; an effort, probably in vain, to keep as best as possible ‘like for like’.

    Back to the police. When not ‘notified’ the matter becomes one of *public order* and therefore a police decision: an operational matter including on the day and follow-through based on risk assessment etc. If there were arrests (on the day or following-on) individuals would be charged: it is possible to proceed with a prosecution for those organising (difficult enough to ‘prove’ without a name on the notification paper) or of those taking part. The police have had plenty of opportunity with parades prior to today to test either way in respect to an ‘illegal’ parade, and have rarely taken action in pursuing prosecutions: though some time ago there was a failure to pursue a successful conclusion to a prosecution which failed? The PPS has to be prepared to carry the case.

    Which has allowed the situation where there has been ‘non-notification’ to be somewhat confused and not a little difficult to address by police without a very clear central direction, and realistic chance that prosecutions will be pursued (arrest without prosecution would look bad on the stats).

    Mark’s earlier post offers rhetorical grandstanding but fails to address the wider issue that this ‘illegal’ parade, as the most recent but one of many, represents – though it may be that no stats are kept on non-notification/’illegal’ parades?
    What does this all say about the law as it stands? Ask the Minister for Justice, who has responsibility for the police and the prosecution service, though not the Parades Commission. It is the minister’s responsibility for the law to be clear and for a system to be in place to ensure there is equality before the law. The danger for the Minister is that if ‘illegal’ parades are routinely ignored by the police then this does question the purpose/value of the Parades Commission, which was of course created to prevent either the police or the Justice Minister/OFMDFM (then the Secretary of State) ever having to take public order decisions in respect of parading.

  • joeCanuck

    …difficult enough to ‘prove’…

    Has someone confiscated the PSNI cameras?

  • Well done everyone great turnout – republicans get away with it so maybe its time the Orange Order refused to apply to parade

  • changeisneeded

    Belfastjj..
    they aint OUR troops…not mine anyway. i dont support the sludge from the bottom of the barrel that end up in the british army. Child killing murderers waging illegal war.. NOT IN MY NAME

  • JC, you would think. However, ‘being there’ is not the same as ‘organising’ others to be there and the police would have to show intent to commit the specific offence and the prosecution service believe the ‘evidence’ (again specific to the offence) to be a slam dunk – what with human rights law and all.

  • JR

    As wew all no parading is a sensitive issue in NI. For this reason I think the organisors should be prosecuted. They are probably more than happy to take a minor charge, it does wonders to highlight the cause.

  • changeisneeded

    Nevin has hit he nail on the head with his opening comment.. C3 and MI5/6 dont do fair or equal….Just what london tells them to do…The DPP is some joke….

  • Cynic2

    Chris

    You misunderstand the game. We complain about yousuns and yousuns complain about us. Its called zero sum politics.

  • Reader

    Cynic2 : You misunderstand the game. We complain about yousuns and yousuns complain about us. Its called zero sum politics.
    Not good enough. While it was only illegal republican marches being stopped or accommodated the PSNI could fudge the decision making process. And that suited SF and PSNI perfectly well. But now the PSNI will have to make their decision making process more transparent.
    I think (Slugger’s) MMcG will be disappointed with the final outcome. Once the dust has settled the big winners will be supporters of the Parades Commission. E.g. me. Personally, I think the PSNI should be planning to be in position to prosecute someone over every illegal march.

  • Neil
  • PaulT

    Who wouldn’t be moved with pity by the sight of that kid in his combats, barely old enough to shave, with two hi-tech metal poles for legs carrying the cup onto the pitch at Old Trafford yesterday

    I don’t think ‘Help for Heroes’ gets a fortune donated from East Belfast nor do I think the Army has experienced a surge in recruitment in East Belfast.

    How many of those protesting yesterday could hold a conversation on the Iraq, Afghan or Libya wars, and how many actually care

  • “Just what london tells them to do…The DPP is some joke…”

    changeisneeded, it’s a bit more complicated than that – as you can see from the link on Mark’s related thread; London, Dublin and Washington are players, not to mention our local heroes.

    Some parts of the old and new media seem a little reluctant to step up to the mark when it comes to giving a full and open account of what passes for governance here. I’ve contributed some evidence of misgovernance and I’ve also tried to convey a flavour of other stuff that perhaps can’t easily be put into the public domain.

  • foyle observer

    There have been 100,000 CIVILIANS murdered in britain’s little excursion to the Middle East.

    Let’s say 50,000 CIVILIANS murdered by britain and the USA respectively. Give or take.

    Mine and other’s cash spent to give these ‘heroes’ a ‘homecoming’.

    No. And rightly so.

  • joeCanuck

    Wrong target, Foyle Observer. Soldiers do what they’re told. Take it up with the decision makers, the politicians.

  • lamhdearg

    Chris
    your post points something else out about marks post, as there have been illegal parades by irish nationalist that the police have let proceed, then the charge of bias made is untrue, and therefore can only be seen as.

    ( to mick, message received)

  • Chris Donnelly

    Lamhdearg

    This post illustrates how active the DUP in particular have been in attempting to force the PSNI into arresting republicans for participating in illegal parades.

    Hence it is entirely appropriate to pose the question as to whether or not the DUP will be consistent in condemning the organisers and participants of this parade, never mind lobby for prosecutions.

    As the link in the thread illustrates, at least one republican has been before the courts in recent months over participation in an illegal parade.

    Let’s see if loyalists who participated in this parade are taken down a similar path…..

  • lamhdearg

    chris
    i dont disagree with you vis a vis the dup’s (and other partys) two face’s.
    could you update us on what happen to the man in Q (your link) was he ever charged, if so what with?.

  • lamhdearg

    Question 2
    Can we also ask if each conviction and caution in the two categories might be labelled nationalist,
    loyalist or other please?
    Answer
    PSNI systems do not label parades and protests as nationalist or loyalist. Therefore the information
    you have requested is not held.

    From psni freedom of information.

    some people have too much time on their hands

  • lamhdearg

    sorry drop this bit.

    Year Cautions for
    Offences Relating
    to Illegal Parades
    Cautions for
    Offences Relating
    to Illegal Protests
    Convictions for
    Offences Relating
    to Illegal Parades
    Convictions for
    Offences Relating
    to Illegal Protests
    1998 2 0 17 0
    1999 0 0 1 0
    2000 0 0 7 4
    2001 0 0 0 0
    2002 0 0 0 0
    2003 0 0 9 0
    2004 0 0 4 1
    2005 2 0 4 1
    2006 5 0 1 1
    2007 0 0 0 0
    2008 0 0 0 0
    2009 0 0 0 1
    2010 0 0 0 0
    hard to read this i know, but the qist is that there has been little police involvement of late and no break down of irish nat or loyalist.

  • RedTurtle

    Frankly I think that it’s illiberal, undemocratic and intolerant for anyone to object to anyone marching in the city centre on a Sunday, whether it’s Scientologists, gays, Hare Krishnas, an Easter Rising commemoration or the RIR.

    The only exception would be a genuine occurrence of two people wanting to hold a demonstration at the same time, where one is not obviously a counter demonstration and response to the other. That is the only hard case we should have to deal with. The RIR should have marched.