Andy Allen, the Ulster Unionist Party`s North Belfast spokesperson, has questioned the rationale of the decision to convict the loyalist Young Conway Volunteers flute band for playing a sectarian tune, whilst choosing not to prosecute the republican band the Druids for their sectarian comments.
Mr Allen said:
"The conviction of members of the Young Conway Volunteers Flute Band will only serve to strengthen the belief amongst a section of the Unionist community that double standards are in play.
“A tune without lyrics was deemed to be sectarian, because of its similarity to the so-called Famine Song, which contains the line, ‘why don’t you go home’. However, a hate filled rant from the Druids at the Ardoyne Fleadh which told unionists to ‘f**k off back to England’ – and which I would contend was much stronger in tone and sentiment and clearly an incitement to hatred - was not deemed worthy of further action.
“One must also consider the decision to arrest and charge a former soldier with the attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham in Benburb in 1974 and compare that to the treatment of .the 200 republican ‘on the runs’ who were given letters of comfort to protect them against prosecution. Some even received the Royal Prerogative of Mercy.
"The lack of consistency and the perception of imbalance are deeply concerning and have to be addressed.”