Controversy after loyalist flute band plays at Services Club

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SDLP assemblyman John Dallat has expressed “great disappointment” about an event in the United Services Hall in Limavady where a loyalist band played at the weekend.

Mr. Dallat claimed last night the committee overseeing the United Services Club in Limavady allowed “an event which falls well outside the standards set for the United Services Clubs anywhere in Northern Ireland or Britain”.

The event the East Derry MLA referred to was the appearance of the Shackleton Defenders Flute Band at the Roemill Road Club on August 10 at an “Annual Relief of Derry party”.

It is understood a number of flyers promoting the event were distributed around the area, and on social media, which Mr. Dallat said: “The laws and regulations relating to clubs such as the United Services Club are very strict and do not permit public advertising.

“This Club is supposed to be run by a committee made up of members of the Navy, Army and Royal British Legion with a commitment to ensuring that the club is strictly for the welfare of its members and doesn’t send out a wrong message that it is partisan in its operation,” Mr. Dallat said; adding it was “extremely disappointing”.

However, Secretary of the United Services Club, David Glasser yesterday stressed the club is non-sectarian, and said the event at which the Shackleton Defenders band played was “a private party”.

“People asked if we could have an event in the Club and we said ‘yes’. To us it’s a no-brainer. We’re open to everyone,” said Mr. Glasser. “A lot of people of different religions use the facility and we welcome them. We do not discriminate.”

Mr. Glasser said the Club was used for christenings, anniversary and birthday parties while Irish dancing classes are also held there.

“The more people we have of different denominations the better,” said Mr. Glasser. “We are not sectarian and we welcome anyone who wants to use the facilities.

“To me this is somebody trying to get at the Club and stir up trouble, but I’m more than happy to meet Mr. Dallat and talk with him.”

Mr. Dallat said he was writing to Council and the PSNI “as I have done in the past asking for an investigation into the conduct of the management committee following complaints from members, who would not hold my political views, but look to me as a public representative to preserve the good name of the United Services Club as a place where people can go without feeling they have to identify with a loyalist flute band and its renditions.”