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Police Ombudsman says file sent to prosecutors over junior Orange Order parade

The disturbances occurred at a junior Orange Order parade in south Belfast last year. Picture by UTV

A FILE has been sent to the Public Prosecution Service regarding a police officer who used CS spray during disturbances at a junior Orange Order parade last year.

The Police Ombudsman received complaints about alleged misconduct following the march on the Ormeau Road in south Belfast on Easter Tuesday.

Police said at the time that CS spray was used after two officers were injured and damage was caused to a PSNI motorcycle when adult participants attacked officers.

Commanders said an officer escorting the parade had been trying to prevent cars being damaged by passing bandsmen.

Any contact children had with CS spray particles was "deeply regretted".

However, parade organisers claimed police overreacted and criticised the use of CS spray in an area where children were present.

A 12-year-old boy said he was left with "burning and stinging" eyes after the gas was sprayed.

Loyalists also contrasted the policing of the parade with several republican Easter Rising commemorations which saw appearances by masked men.

Former First Minister Arlene Foster said she had spoken to Chief Constable George Hamilton about the incident.

Mr Hamilton said at the time: "If things come out of the Ormeau Road incident, or any other incident, that we need to think about or do differently then we won't argue about that, we won't be defensive - but let the Ombudsman do his job."

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman has now said that a file was passed to the PPS before Christmas, but it does not comment on recommendations it makes.

The spokesman said the ombudsman's office would be awaiting a PPS decision before making any recommendations of its own in the case.

The PPS had not responded by yesterday to a request for comment.

A community police officer had to review his security arrangements after his personal details - including his name, picture and home address - were posted online after the march.

Threats were issued against the officer and his family by people commenting on the post, which was later removed.

Meanwhile, Noel Liggett, the parade's organiser, was initially charged with obstructing police in relation to the march but that charge was withdrawn at a hearing at Belfast Magistrates Court earlier this month.

He was bound over to the sum of £400 to keep the peace for a period of one year.

DUP councillor Graham Craig and MLA Christopher Stalford attended court to support Mr Liggett, with Mr Craig saying that "common sense had prevailed".

He wrote on Facebook: "Noel was in fact instrumental in calming the situation and this prosecution is completely inappropriate."

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