Northern Ireland

Police investigate reports of shots fired in north Belfast

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Media captionPolice investigate reports of shots fired in north Belfast - Updated

The police are investigating reports of shots being fired by a masked gunman in north Belfast on Sunday.

A video posted on the internet shows a gunman firing several shots beside a republican mural.

The DUP MP for the area, Nigel Dodds, condemned the incident, which happened during an Easter commemoration in Ardoyne, as "deplorable".

He said it raised questions for the police, the Parades Commission and the organisers.

Mr Dodds and two party colleagues held talks with the district police commander for north Belfast on Monday.

"We relayed the very big concerns that many people are expressing to us in north Belfast about this incident," he said.

"I have seen the video on YouTube and like others who have seen it, I am absolutely appalled at the fact that it shows in broad daylight a gunman firing up to eight shots in front of a mural whilst the Henry Joy McCracken Republican flute band and others in a demonstration organised by Republican Network for Unity (RNU) stand by.

"I think this is an extremely serious event."


Mr Dodds said it appeared the event was an "organised and notified event" to the Parades Commission.

"As I understand it, RNU and the band are named as organisers and therefore this was something we pushed the police very strongly that they would need to investigate," he said.

"I think there are very serious questions the police need to pursue with the parade organisers.

"There are questions also for the Parades Commission because they have allowed this band and these organisers in previous incidents to organise demonstrations and parades.

"Now a serious question must be asked whether these people can be allowed, especially in interface areas or contentious areas, having been responsible it seems for this kind of event, where you bring a gunman out onto the street."

In a statement the Parades Commission said: "The commission expects all parades to abide by its code of conduct which prohibits paramilitary displays.

"We will take previous behaviour into account in considering future parades."

Image caption Children in paramilitary uniforms took part in the republican parade

Mr Dodds also said it was a disgrace to see children dressed up in paramilitary uniforms during the parade.

"It is disgraceful to see children being used to glorify paramilitary activities and violence," he said.

"This is highly inappropriate and I would call on the children's commissioner and the relevant authorities to investigate this incident thoroughly."

The commissioner, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, said: "It is deeply worrying to see children exposed to weapons and to civil disorder. Parents and responsible adults must protect children and young people.

"Irresponsible adults are putting children and young people at risk. I urge all in our community to prevent this and if a criminal offence has been committed this must be referred to the PSNI and all relevant authorities."