Northern Ireland news

MP accuses police of 'standing by' as banner supporting British army erected in centre of Armagh

Police were pictured nearby as a banner in support of 'British veterans' was erected at a busy junction in Armagh
Connla Young

AN MP has accused police of “standing by” as a banner in support of retired British soldiers was erected in the centre of Armagh.

Sinn Féin’s Mickey Brady has called for an urgent meeting with police after the banner was put up at a busy junction in broad daylight on Thursday evening.

Police confirmed they attended the scene where “one person was wearing a scarf over their face”. They said they spoke to people and will review body-worn-camera footage as part of their inquiries.

The banner was erected at a junction used by thousands of vehicles each day, close to the city’s picturesque Mall, a historic former women’s prison and a police station. It reads “Armagh opposes the witch hunt against our British veterans” and carries the logo of the Parachute Regiment as well as the slogan “No apology, no surrender”.

Similar banners have been erected in loyalist areas across the north in recent months after it emerged that a former paratrooper, known as ‘Soldier F’, is to face prosecution for the murder of two men on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1971. The banner campaign coincides with the Ballymurphy inquest which is examining the killing of 10 Catholic men and women over three days in August 1971 in west
Belfast.

Mr Brady, the MP for Newry and Armagh, claimed police were nearby when the banner was erected but did not intervene.

“It is wrong that this banner has been erected in Armagh city centre in the first instance but it is absolutely unacceptable that the PSNI stood by at the bottom of the ladder and watched while a masked man put it up,” he said.

“Incidents like this do nothing to support efforts to build community confidence in the PSNI.

“I have called for an urgent meeting with the PSNI over this and will be challenging them to explain why police officers stood by and watched while a masked man was in the city centre in broad
daylight.”

In a statement, Chief Inspector Barney O’Connor said: “Police received a report of a banner erected at the Gaol Square area of Armagh [on Thursday] evening.

“Upon arrival of police, a number of people were spoken to. One person was wearing a scarf over their face.

“As part of our enquiries, police will review body-worn footage taken by an officer in attendance.”

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