Allister's 'faux outrage' over tour due to antipathy to republican narrative, says band

Jim Allister
Jim Allister

The organisers of a Derry walking tour have accused TUV leader, Jim Allister, of exhibiting 'faux outrage' over the event due to its republican reading of history.

The Spirit of Freedom Republican Flute Band, which will lead the tour around the city tomorrow, was responding to Mr. Allister's claim that if the tour featured reenactments of the republican campaign of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, it would amount to a "glorification of terrorism".

Last year the production of replica Kalashnikovs and Armalites during one of the band's tours provoked unionist anger.

And speaking to the Belfast News Letter this week Mr. Allister said: “If this upcoming event is anything like last year’s, it will be very insensitive towards victims.”

However, the band has described the TUV leader's criticism of its 'Windmill Hill' tour as "faux outrage aimed at stoking tensions".

A spokesperson for the band said: “This will be the second of these tours to be held in the past few months. The tour recounts the history of the city from the time of St. Columba up until the present day. It tells the story from a republican perspective, something which we are perfectly entitled to do but Jim Allister seems unable to accept.

“We respect the right of everyone to remember their own history as long as they do it in a respectful manner. We share that right and believe we have a duty to inform people of the republican narrative of the history of this city. Others may disagree with that narrative and, again, that is their right to do so.

“Throughout the course of our history there have been periods of armed struggle by republicans. That is a matter of fact and is one area that this tour depicts. Let us be clear, there is no hurt or offence intended by this tour, it is merely a factual reenactment of events that have taken place throughout our history.

“We will not be deterred from events like this by people like Jim Allister who thrive off controversy and faux outrage aimed at stoking tensions through the media.

“If anyone would like to take part in this tour, please come to the Gweedore Bar at 2 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday), all welcome.”

Last year following complaints the PSNI confirmed the replica weapons used during the band's September tour were entirely legitimate.

“The PSNI were in contact with the organiser during the above time frame (September 30, 2017 until December 7, 2017) and despite it not being a legal requirement, checks of the replica weapons were conducted. Please note these checks were outside of this requested time frame," said the force.