The DUP in Londonderry says a party delegation was verbally abused by some of those protesting a PSNI recruitment event at St Columb’s Park House at the weekend and claims a counter-protest by angry community leaders in the Waterside had been considered in reaction to the anti-police demonstration.
Waterside Councilor David Ramsey said: “The DUP confronted the dissident republican protest on Saturday [October 17] against the PSNI recruitment event. We received a lot of verbal abuse from protesters.
“This was a deliberate attempt to intimidate people who wanted to attend an event creating employment opportunities.”
Mr Ramsey said the party liaised by telephone with concerned community leaders in the Waterside on the day.
He revealed a counter-protest had been under consideration at one point.
“Local community leaders who were very angered agreed not to have a counter protest and give these antagonists publicity,” said Mr Ramsey on behalf of the DUP locally.
“We were in contact by phone to community leaders throughout the protest. The fact that this was an illegal procession, we will be liaising with the PSNI about their investigation into this protest, which goes against the vast majority the people in Londonderry.”
The event in the heart of St Columb’s Park followed the cancellation of a similar event that had been planned to take place in the Waterfoot Hotel on October 10.
That recruitment session was cancelled due to fears that a protest could disrupt a wedding function that was scheduled to take place on the same day.
The venue was switched away from the Waterfoot after a viable device was found on the premises.
Mr Ramsey encouraged people not to be discouraged from seeking jobs with the PSNI.
“The DUP along with the people of the Waterside and surrounding area are determined to give support to this employment opportunity for our city.
“Our presence on Saturday was important to monitor the protest and ensure people who wanted to attend were not prevented from doing so and we will continue to stand against those who want to cause destruction and mayhem in our society,” he said.
Mr Ramsey was joined by local party members, Gregory Campbell, Gary Middleton, Maurice Devenney and Graham Warke.
Mr Middleton said: “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.”
The Londonderry DUP MLA said: “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.”