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Dungannon Police come in for criticism after showing support for Belfast ‘Gay Pride’ event

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

POLICE in Dungannon have come under fire on social media after expressing its support for Belfast's Gay Pride events.

The Dungannon & South Tyrone PSNI Facebook account posted messages highlighting the Police's active involvement in the week of events and inviting people to visit the various activities.

However, comments on the post have attracted a largely negative response, with Police being accused of not showing appropriate consideration to those who disagree with the celebrations.

In one of a series of Facebook posts on their page, a photo showing a specially adapted Police Land Rover offering support to the LGBT community attracted a great deal of comment.

Emma-Jayne Cahoon said: "How about a Bible verse on the side of your vans? I think that's a much better idea", while Barbara Smyth posted: "What about those within the PSNI who don't support the LGBT agenda, I suppose their opinion doesn't matter!!!"

Other commenters stated their disappointment that Police didn't offer the same support to the Loyal Orders during the 12th festivities.

Flo Moore said: "How very sad... didn't see your members or cars at 12th in Cookstown with collarettes on or festooned with Orange Lilies to make people aware and to report 'Hate Crime' against the Orange Order or its followers".

Grace Smith said it was "ridiculous to say the least" while Elizabeth Wallace was very unimpressed, saying: "Disgusting. Never thought PSNI would stoop so low" and Lorna Jennings said: "It's certainly not making me proud".

However, some commenters expressed their support for the Police initiative.

Richard Browne said: "Well done, good to see a positive police presence at a parade that's all about inclusivity rather than division".

The opposition to the Police's actions was also criticised by some posters.

Alexandra M Wolfe said: "Wow, didn't know there were so many backwards bigots in my country. Wonderful show of support PSNI" while Brian Banawich said: "How many people commenting realise it's 2017? All sections of the community are entitled to be included, particularly those who have faced bigotry and discrimination for so long." And Richard Allen said to the objectors: "Lighten up folks?" DUP Councillor for Dungannon Clement Cuthbertson also expressed his opposition to the Police's actions.

He said: "I have been inundated by constituents from across the Dungannon area who are deeply offended following posts on the Dungannon & South Tyrone PSNI Facebook account. I totally agree with what people are saying to me in reference to the lack of neutrality openly displayed by the PSNI during their policing of weekend events in Belfast.

"Regrettably, support, participation in and promotion of this cause is also clearly evident in the posts, with one message even attempting to persuade the public to attend.

There are serious issues needing clarified by the Dungannon & South Tyrone police commanders.

"Why were Police not policing in a neutral manner? Why is our local PSNI social media account promoting these events? What was the financial impact of this support? Are these posts representative of the ethos of the PSNI in Mid-Ulster? "I have emailed senior Police Officers in Mid-Ulster to try and get answers and to lodge not only my own personal disapproval, but also the disapproval and disappointment of my constituents who contacted me. Pressures on budgets have negatively impacted on the number of Police officers covering all areas, including Dungannon, and people are rightly questioning why valuable Police resources are being used in this manner. By spending valuable time and manpower on this event, the amount of finance and personnel available to Police our area will have been reduced.

"Perhaps the PSNI will now support and promote other major events in Mid-Ulster? On Saturday, 29th August, the traditional 'Last Saturday' Parade will be held in Aughnacloy, when members of the Royal Black, which is a registered charity, bands and supporters, upwards of 12,000 - 15,000 people, will descend on the town. Will the PSNI promote and engage positively with this event?"

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