01 July 2005

Loyalists disrupt police meeting


A District Policing Partnership meeting in County Antrim has had to be abandoned following a protest by loyalists.

The SDLP chairman, Declan O'Loan, needed a police escort after the protesters disrupted proceedings in Clough village hall.

A group of about 50 loyalists jeered him as he tried to start the meeting.

It is believed the protest relates to remarks made by the SDLP councillor on the re-routing of parades in Ballymena.

The protesters were carrying Union flags and began singing God Save the Queen.

Councillor O'Loan insisted he was chairing the meeting and tried three times to speak, but each time the loyalists shouted sectarian abuse at him, jeered and stamped their feet.

He then announced he was adjourning the meeting.

Afterwards, Mr O'Loan said: "It was most regrettable that this incident took place.

"It is fundamental to the operation of the DPPs that political representatives hold the chair in rotation and each chair deserves to have the support of the whole community in carrying out their function."

Progressive Unionist Party member Billy McCaughey said: "Declan O'Loan is not an acceptable chairman for the DPP as far as unionism is concerned."

He added: "Our intention was to ensure he didn't chair the meeting and we are happy with the outcome."

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