Northern Ireland

PSNI criticised over Rasharkin parade route change

Sinn Fein has criticised the police's handling of a loyalist band parade in Rasharkin on Friday night.

The parade was rerouted and delayed for more than two hours following a security alert at an Orange hall.

North Antrim MLA Daithi McKay said the rerouting was illegal because it was not cleared by the Parades Commission.

Police said allowing the parade to proceed along the route in reverse gave them more time to make safe the suspicious object and reduce the delay.

"This was a practical solution to a problem that was not of the making of the parade organisers or the residents group," said Chief Inspector Ryan Henderson.

He said the decision to change the route was because "the safety of everyone in the area was our first priority".

The parade was due to begin at about 1945 BST but was held up after a suspicious object was found at the back of the Orange hall on Main Street.

The parade finally got under way just at about 2230 BST, but because of the alert police directed bands to march along the route in reverse.

As the parade passed, protesters shouted insults but the trouble was minor. Police said no arrests were made.

The DUP said the police should have anticipated the hoax.

The parade ended shortly before 0030 BST on Saturday morning and the security operation was then scaled back.

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