A LOCAL flute band, accused of ‘hi-jacking’ an Olympic torch relay, have been vigorously defended by one of the main organisers of the event.

Dervock Young Defenders were alleged in media reports to have breached the law when they took part in the celebrations in the village to mark the passage of the Olympic torch back in June.

Describing the accusations as “highly erroneous”, the chairperson of Dervock and District Community Association, Frankie Cunningham, confirmed that the band had been invited to the event on Sunday, June 3, and a poster had listed their name alongside Articlave flute band (right).

Mr. Cunningham took the unusual step of issuing a statement stating: “Dervock Young Defenders Flute Band are keen to set the record straight following a number of misleading articles criticising them in local and regional press.

“The band plays an active role in the local community, and have been involved in a number of initiatives organised by other groups in the village. First and foremost, they engaged in a major ‘Re-imaging Communities Programme’, which led to the removal of two paramilitary murals and the renovation of the mural commemorating Dervock men and women who died in the two World Wars.

“The new art work by Ross Wilson is a very special piece that draws visitor to the area and celebrates the history of the Dervock Young Defenders Flute Band as well as Kennedy Kane MacArthur, Dervock’s famous Olympian. This project involved local schools and young people, as well as the Dervock and District Community Association, Ballymoney Council and the Arts Council.

“The band work closely with other organisations in the village and have fully supported initiatives such as the Beacon of Hope, The Dervock Village Plan, Dervock Discovered, Community Dialogue and Exchange, the joint Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Olympic Torch relay and the Kennedy Kane MacArthur ‘Festival of Running’ (for which they provided marshals).

“I welcome the input from Dervock Young Defenders Flute Band and other community-based groups into the social fabric of the community of Dervock and Dervock Young Defenders Flute Band can list a catalogue of community led initiatives to highlight their community involvement and have recently extended their commitment by becoming members of the Dervock and District Community Association and were instrumental in the establishment of an ‘Events’ committee within the community.

“Furthermore, the suggestion that Dervock Young Defenders Flute Band ‘hi-jacked’ the village’s Olympic Torch relay is highly erroneous as the band were actually invited, along with Articlave Flute Band, by Dervock and District Community Association to participate in the joint celebrations of the Olympic Torch and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee events.”