The Republican Network for Unity (R.N.U.) has told the ‘Journal’ that they plan to go ahead with a peaceful protest at a PSNI recruitment drive in Derry tomorrow.
The event was originally scheduled to take place in the Waterfoot Hotel last Saturday but the PSNI postponed the session as they feared a planned R.N.U. protest had the potential to disrupt a wedding taking place in the hotel at the same time.
The police then said the event would go ahead at the hotel tomorrow but hotel owner, Mr. Garvan O’Doherty, opted out of the arrangement with the police because of fears for the “health and safety” of his staff and customers.
The hotel had to be evacuated last Friday after reports that a suspicious device had been left in the area.
The PSNI conducted a search of the area and a viable device was discovered in the grounds of the hotel later.
Less than 24 hours later Mr. O’Doherty made the announcement that the event would no longer be taking in his hotel.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable, Michael Hamilton, confirmed the event would take place as planned on October 17 but in an alternative venue, namely St. Columb’s Park House in the Waterside.
“We are calling on all like minded thinking groups and republicans to join us on a peaceful protest against political policing,” said R.N.U. spokesperson Tony Taylor.
“We want anyone who is concerned with human rights to join us in our protest.
“The PSNI said anyone involved in the planned protest were intent on disruption.
“The R.N.U. is only intent on peaceful protest and the highlighting of political policing.
“We are entitled to free speech and have the right to protest just as much as anyone else.
“We will be gathering outside Pilot’s Row at 3:30p.m. on Saturday and will make our way to St. Columb’s Park House where the protest will take place at around 4:00p.m.” added Mr. Taylor.
DUP MLA for Foyle, Gary Middleton, said he did not think Mr. O’Doherty’s decision to stop the event taking place in his hotel was a victory for dissidents.
“Certainly he [Mr O’Doherty] can’t be condemned for that [stopping the event taking place in the Waterfoot Hotel]. However, I am disappointed it has had to be cancelled.
“We have to look at the reasons - Garvan had to weigh up his support for the PSNI - he has committed to that - but also bear in mind the fact he’s also concerned about his own staff and how they’re feeling vulnerable.
“I don’t believe it is a victory for dissidents.
“The event will go ahead, albeit at a different venue.”