Police have been criticised for portraying Dungiven as ‘a no-go area.’
The condemnation comes after what’s been described as a heavy police presence in the town on Saturday as buses of Linfield supporters travelled to Derry for a cup game against Institute.
The PSNI said the “visible police presence” was to “ensure the safety of both the Linfield supporters travelling on buses to the Institute vs Linfield match and to residents of the surrounding areas”.
Police said the day passed off peacefully.
The volume of police in the town, with officers in vehicles and on bicycles, has drawn criticism from residents and local representatives. Sinn Fein Councillor Sean McGlinchey said: “It’s becoming a joke. At one point I met three car loads of police going into Dungiven at half past two on Saturday. The amount of resources they’re putting into this type of policing, there is no need for it. All it’s doing is sending out a message to anyone travelling through the town that Dungiven is a ‘no-go’ area.
“Police are painting a bad image of Dungiven and all that does is antagonise people. It all stems from the incident a couple of years ago when a woman returning from a loyalist parade on a bus was injured. We strongly condemned that and it should never have happened, but there has been nothing since.”
Colr. McGlinchey said he has asked his colleague, Gerry Kelly, to raise the issue with senior PSNI officers at the Policing Board.
One Dungiven resident, who preferred not to be named, said: “It does make me angry that police are treating Dungiven this way, that’s what they think of Dungiven. There’s only one reason for it and that’s because Dungiven is a nationalist town. That’s the one and only reason. It’s totally unfair what police are doing because they’re blackening Dungiven’s reputation. There was one incident a couple of years ago and I didn’t agree with that. Those buses should never have been touched, but in my honest opinion, there’s no need for the amount of police they had on Saturday.”
Rory Donaghy from Dungiven is an independent member of the Causeway Policing and Community Safety Partnership. He said he’ll be raising the issue with police locally.
“It paints a totally unfair picture and it’s not what the town is about. In the past certain things have happened with Orange parades and, because of that, the town is getting it in the neck and through no fault of its own,” said Mr. Donaghy. “This type of policing is a thing of the past and that’s where we want it to stay.”