Northern Ireland

Ardoyne Fleadh: No prosecution over Druids' comments

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Media captionThe Druids appeared on stage during the Ardoyne Fleadh on Sunday 24 August

There will be no prosecutions over complaints about comments made by a folk band at the Ardoyne Fleadh in north Belfast last month.

The DUP and TUV said they had reported comments made by musical act The Druids at the fleadh to the police.

The police said they conducted a "full and thorough investigation".

They presented their evidence to the Public Prosecution Service which advised no criminal offence had been committed.

A video from the event showed a member of the band telling the audience that British soldiers in Ireland "should get together with their Orange comrades" and go back to England.

The County Kildare-based group's singer Mick O'Brien told the Leinster Leader that the remarks "wouldn't be our normal comments as such [during a gig], but again it is taken out of context".

'Beggars belief'

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said the decision not to prosecute "beggars belief".

"In Scotland prosecutions have been successfully pursued against those who sang the so-called Famine Song, yet the republican equivalent has been given the green light by the PSNI and PPS in Northern Ireland. Why is the obvious question?" he said

"This decision will be challenged by the DUP at the assembly, on the Policing Board and through any other avenue we can find."

Ulster Unionist Ross Hussey said he was "disgusted" by the PPS decision.

"I would like Barra McGrory [the director of public prosecutions] to come out publicly and explain just how the PPS have arrived at this decision. How they can reach this conclusion is both indefensible and inexplicable," he said.

"The evidence is there, on film, for the whole world to see, yet the PPS can't see anything."

However, the SDLP's Alban Maginness said it was the right decision.

"Yes these remarks were offensive, yes they were sectarian, yes they caused great offence," he said.

"But I don't think it amounted to a hate crime per se."

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