Ballycastle Twelfth fracas band has bus torched at hall

Damage caused to a  bus belonging to  Dervock Young Defenders flute band, outside an Orange hall on the Carncullagh Road in Co Antrim.
 Pic: Pacemaker
Damage caused to a bus belonging to Dervock Young Defenders flute band, outside an Orange hall on the Carncullagh Road in Co Antrim. Pic: Pacemaker

A bus belonging to a loyalist band involved in a Twelfth parade confrontation on the north coast has been destroyed in an overnight arson attack.

The burned out vehicle, which was parked outside an Orange hall on the Carncullagh Road in Dervock, was reported around 5.30am on Friday.

The was used by the Dervock Young Defenders who took part in this year’s July 12 celebrations in Ballycastle.

During the return leg of the parade through the town, independent republican councillor Padraig McShane was arrested following an altercation as the band passed through The Diamond.

Video footage posted online shows a small group of males facing towards the band from the footpath, and the band members turning towards the men while still playing their instruments.

Cllr McShane can then be seen being wrestled to the ground by PSNI officers before being placed in a police vehicle. He was released on police bail pending further enquiries soon afterwards.

Causeway Coast and Glens TUV councillor Sharon McKillop said she was disgusted by the arson attack and called on Cllr McShane to condemn it.

“Just last week he had an altercation with the band which led to his arrest. During the incident he made baseless allegations which I have had occasion to raise with the PSNI directly. The burning of the bus this morning must be roundly condemned by all in positions of responsibility in society,” she said.

Responding to the call Cllr McShane, who resigned from Sinn Fein in 2010, said he condemned those responsible for “attempting to raise community tensions”.

However, he said the timing of incident should not deflect from “holding to account” band members he claims provoked the incident in Ballycastle.

Cllr McShane added: “The timing of this incident is too coincidental. Any history of criminality and arson in the Dervock area has been attributed solely to the local UDA. There is absolutely no history of any other attacks.”

North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey said: “This is a despicable act and I have already spoken this morning to police to see what leads they may have as to what happened and who was responsible. If this was arson I would appeal for full cooperation with the police and that there is no retaliation. Regrettably there are a small element of individuals who are determined to spread sectarian hatred.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann called on constituents “to rally behind the Dervock community and give whatever information they can to the police so that arsonists responsible for a bus burning will be brought for the courts”.

Mr Swann said: “This was not only an attack on the band, but an attack on the entire village as the bus was use by other organisations in the community on many occasions throughout the year.

“The arsonists responsible for this despicable attack must be caught by the police”.

PUP councillor Russell Watton said the attack was “purely sectarian” but called for no retaliation.

“I don’t want to see anybody going down that road. There is a lot of anger about, but I don’t want to see young men ending up in prison.”

Cllr Watton said there were a number of instruments on the bus that will not be covered by insurance leaving the band facing financial hardship.