DUP meets watchdog over child parades

DUP meets watchdog over child parades

Senior DUP members have met with the Parades Commission to discuss events at republican parades in Ardoyne at the weekend.

A gunman shooting into the air in a show of strength was allegedly filmed at a commemoration in north Belfast on Saturday and children were also photographed taking part wearing paramilitary-style clothing.

Speaking after the meeting, DUP MP Nigel Dodds said he was reassured the Parades Commission would be looking into the matter.

"We put on record our concerns that that was able to happen as part of a notified parade, the fact that young children were dressed in garb designed to glorify terrorism and we asked the Parades Commission to investigate and to ensure there are repercussions as a result of this behaviour," he said.

"There cannot be two kinds of law in this country, one for the Loyal Orders, and another for the people who go around organising events at which guns are produced and young children are dressed up to glorify terrorism, that can't be allowed to pertain in Northern Ireland and we're determined that it should not."

The Justice Minister David Ford has said using children in these roles was "exploitation".

Speaking to UTV on Tuesday, the Republican Network for Unity (RNU), who organised the event alongside the Henry Joy McCracken Republican Flute Band, remained unrepentant about the children's involvement.

In a statement on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Commission said: "The Chairman of the Parades Commission had a meeting today with senior members of the DUP from North Belfast.

"The meeting was to discuss a number of issues concerning recent parades including an incident which allegedly occurred at a parade over the Easter period.

"The Commission welcomed the opportunity to discuss directly with the public representatives their concerns."

The spokesperson confirmed they are investigating the parade, and are seeking a response from the organisers as well as a report from the PSNI.

Police confirmed on Monday they are investigating the footage of the gunman.


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