Northern Ireland

Apprentice Boys' criticise policing aspects of parade

The van was completely destroyed in the attack
Image caption A number of vehicles were completely destroyed during the violence

The head of the Apprentice Boys in Londonderry has criticised part of the policing operation in the city on Saturday, after violence broke out after the annual parade.

Dissident republicans were blamed for the trouble during which petrol bombs were thrown and vehicles hijacked.

A mother and her daughter were dragged from their car near Creggan Street.

The PSNI defended its actions and said "difficult judgement calls" had to be made.

Violence broke out in Fahan Street after the main parade had passed through the city.

The governor of the Apprentice Boys, Jim Brownlee, said police had observed young people from the wall and should have "done something" to drive them back.

Risk

"The fact is they (police) were blind to the people who attacked the parade," he said.

"A lot of people (Apprentice Boys) would have had their backs to that particular area, so therefore when the petrol bombs came over, people's lives were put at risk."

PSNI commander for the Foyle area, Ch Supt Stephen Martin said he thought the "police had got it right" in how they handled the violence.

"There was a fair amount of disorder being directed towards police," said Ch Supt Martin.

"Police were absorbing that, they were the focal point of it at the top of Fahan Street at Butcher Gate.

"Then all of a sudden a number of young people decided not to throw them at the police, but they decided to throw them over the wall at the memorial hall."

Intense

Ch Supt Martin said that police immediately pushed down Fahan Street and into the Bogside to "deny the young people that ground".

"Predictably what then happened was the violence intensified considerably.

Image caption A man throws a petrol bomb towards police lines

"A pipe bomb type device was seen very clearly being lit and thrown, thankfully no-one was hurt.

"Police put themselves in the middle to protect the Apprentice Boys."

Police believe the trouble was orchestrated by dissident republicans.

"There were many people in the community doing their best to keep a lid on it, many women's and resident's groups doing their best but this was organised by dissident republicans.

"This was going to happen because they wanted it to happen."

Good work

Ch Supt Martin said in general the parade "went very well".

"It is the biggest parade in Northern Ireland annually, a lot of work is done by many groups, and I think all their hard work paid off with a good responsible parade on Saturday," he said.

He added that he would be speaking to Mr Brownlee in the coming days to listen to his concerns.

Three men, aged 18, 19 and 24, have been charged over the disorder.

They are due to appear at Londonderry Magistrates Court on 9 September.

More than 10,000 people travelled to the city for the annual Apprentice Boys' parade.

One hundred-and-forty bands marched through the city centre, amid tight security. The parade was the culmination of this year's week-long Maiden City Festival.

Dissident republicans staged protests against the loyal order demonstration throughout the day.

The trouble followed an attack on the the Apprentice Boys' Memorial Hall on Friday night. Several dozen petrol bombs were thrown in the direction of the building from the Bogside, according to police.

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