Northern Ireland news

Ormeau parade row: Facebook post showing officer's picture is removed

The page on Facebook carried personal details about an officer it claimed was on duty during a junior Orange Order parade which sparked minor disturbances on Belfast's Ormeau Road earlier this week  

A FACEBOOK post carrying a picture of a community police officer has been removed as an investigation into online threats continues.

The PUL Media page carried personal details about an officer it claimed was on duty during a junior Orange Order parade which sparked minor disturbances on Belfast's Ormeau Road earlier this week.

Threats were made against the officer and his family in comments posted underneath the picture.

Unionist politicians have criticised police over their handling of the parade on Tuesday, making the comparison with republican parades which featured masked men over the Easter weekend.

On Thursday, First Minister Arlene Foster said she does not believe there is two-tier policing.

The DUP leader said it was important police commanders addressed public concerns about how recent operations involving respective traditions were handled, but she did not believe officers treated people from different backgrounds in different ways.

"I think the police have a very, very difficult job to do but I do think it is right that as politicians we ask questions, it would be wrong if we weren't able to ask questions of our police service, in return they answer those questions and indeed they are monitored by the ombudsman," she said.

In an interview with the BBC, she added: "So I don't think there is a two-tier policing system, but I think there are concerns out there and therefore for the police, and for myself, we need to get to the bottom of those issues."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the fact a child was affected by CS spray used on Tuesday was a "source of concern".

PSNI chiefs have insisted their tactics depend on the circumstances of each individual operation, not on the community involved.

They said two officers were injured and damage caused to a police motorcycle when adult participants in Tuesday's parade attacked them on the Ormeau Road.

A man was later arrested and charged with public order offences.

Parade organisers claim police over-reacted and a number of children developed swollen lips and eyes after coming into contact with CS spray.

Head of the Police Federation Mark Lindsay has criticised those using online forums to threaten police and accused some politicians of using the PSNI as a "political football" ahead of May's assembly elections.

However, unionist councillor Ruth Patterson, who is running for the assembly as an independent, hit out at Mr Lindsay.

"Mr Lindsay and senior police should be mindful of the fact that the PSNI are well paid civil servants and as such are accountable to the public and those they elect," she said.

"We regularly hear this patronising tone from the Police Federation - and senior officers - who seem to believe that if the police say it is so, then we should all just shut up and take their word for it."

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