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Dublin: 5°C Friday 21 January 2022

Derry police investigate 'hate incident' after Soldier F placards burned on Bogside bonfire

British Soldier F faces charges over his role in the killings of two people on Bloody Sunday in 1972.

Londonderry bonfire Crowds gather at the bonfire in the Bogside area of Derry last night. Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

POLICE IN DERRY are investigating after placards referring to ‘Soldier F’ were set alight on a bonfire in the Bogside area of the city last night. 

Soldier F, the former British soldier facing charges over his role in the killings of two people on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972, is due to appear in court in a few weeks’ time. 

The PSNI received a number of reports regarding “offensive material” on the bonfire in the Bogside, built to mark the Catholic Feast of the Assumption.

“As a police service we recognise the hurt and frustration that this can cause. The display of this material has been perceived as offensive and distasteful,” the PSNI said in a statement. 

“We are treating this as a hate incident and will continue to gather evidence as this evening continues. Where crimes have been committed and suspects identified they will be brought before the courts.”

Londonderry bonfire Emergency services cover nearby buildings in water. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Last night’s events in the Bogside come after a flute band paraded close to the scene of Bloody Sunday with a Parachute Regiment symbol and the letter “F” on the sleeves of their uniforms on Sunday. 

The Antrim-based Apprentice Boys band were escorted by police through the city on the march and police then made efforts to identify members of the band involved.

On Tuesday, the PSNI met with political representatives in two separate meetings to discuss Saturday’s parade. The meetings were described as “robust and constructive”. 

“We explained what police did and why. We also listened carefully to all the strong concerns that have been raised about how we carried out our actions,” PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin said. 

The meetings came after bricks and bottles were thrown at police during disturbances in the Bogside area of Derry on Monday night. 

24 petrol bombs and six paint bombs were also thrown in the streets and that police patrols came under attack from youths throwing missiles including bricks and bottles, according to the PSNI.

Between 30 and 40 people were involved in the disturbances which lasted from early evening into the night.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Bogside, a three-day riot in the city which saw the people of the Bogside area erect barricades to prevent the Royal Ulster Constabulary entering.

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