A protest held outside a PSNI recruitment event in Derry has passed off peacefully.
At around 3:30p.m. on Saturday afternoon approximately 60 protesters carrying banners, Irish tricolours and placards made their way from Pilot’s Row in the Bogside, across the Peace Bridge and through St. Columb’s Park where they were stopped by police from entering the venue where the recruitment event took place.
Independent Derry City and Strabane District Council councillor Gary Donnelly was amongst the protesters.
Speaking to ‘Journal’ at the protest Colr. Donnelly said
“This is a protest led by the people of Derry against British policing.
“Over the last number of days there have been a number of homes ransacked by the PSNI and there has been a dramatic increase in the number of stop and searches. People have come here today to show their anger and opposition to British policing,” said Colr. Donnelly.
The PSNI maintained a heavy police presence throughout the protest.
The protesters eventually made their way from Browning Drive, through St. Columb’s Park to the entrance of St. Columb’s Park House.
PSNI officers in high visibility jackets maintained a barrier across the entrance during the protest.
Several PSNI land rovers observed the protest from less than 50 yards away.
There was no violence and no one was arrested. The protest lasted over an hour and passed off without incident.
Elected members of the DUP, including Gregory Campbell and MLA for Foyle, Gary Middleton, attended the protest.
Mr. Middleton described the protest as “disgraceful” and said he did not think it was peaceful.
“I am disgusted at this protest because again, individuals have taken it upon themselves to disrupt what is an employment opportunity for many.
“I think it’s disgraceful that people who have come to this recruitment event today have been denied that opportunity. I am all for peaceful protest and I support the right of people to protest peacefully but what we have here today is completely unacceptable.”
The PSNI recruitment event was due to take place in Waterfoot Hotel on Saturday October 10 but the police postponed the session as they feared a planned Republican Network for Unity (R.N.U.) protest had the potential to interfere with a wedding due to take place at the hotel at the same time.
Police then carried out a search after they received reports that a suspect device had been planted near the hotel on October 9.
After a thorough search of the area a viable device was discovered in the grounds of the hotel.
The event was then due to take place in the hotel on Saturday October 17 but hotel owner Garvan O’Doherty decided against it because he feared for the safety of customers and staff.
The PSNI then announced on Wednesday that an alternative venue had been found on the event went ahead as planned on Saturday afternoon.
The PSNI held two information sessions at St. Columb’s Park House and Justice Minister, David Ford MLA, was in attendance.