The PSNI has defended its approach to a flute band which wore Parachute Regiment insignia during an Apprentice Boys parade in Londonderry.

Members of Clydevalley Flute Band from Larne wore the symbol with the letter ‘F’ on their shirts during Saturday’s parade.

Officers flanked the band during the parade and their bus was later stopped by police.

The Apprentice Boys described the police’s actions as “heavy handed”.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said the response was “proportionate, responsible and constructive”.

He said he viewed the day as a successful police operation.

“Given the context of the space, the symbols and the history, I don’t think anybody who has looked at that carefully is going to argue that that had the potential to raise tension,” he said.

On Sunday, police came under attack for a second night in the city. Police said a patrol was targeted with a petrol bomb and paint at about 18:35 BST.

No one was injured but a police vehicle was damaged.

The parades commission said it had received a number of complaints regarding the Apprentice Boys parade.

A spokesperson for the commission said: “There is a longstanding local accommodation for parades in Derry/Londonderry with the result that the Commission is not required to adjudicate on them, nor to impose conditions on them.

“This resolution of parading issues through dialogue is promoted by the Commission as fundamental to improved community relations.”

ACC Todd said that the vast majority of people who attended the parade did so within the law and respectfully.

He said that police engaged with one band in the interests of keeping the peace but were unable secure their cooperation.

Thirteen people were shot dead when members of the Army’s Parachute Regiment opened fire on civil rights demonstrators on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972.

An ex-paratrooper, known as Soldier F, is facing prosecution for two murders.

‘False impression’

Clydevalley Flute Band said that the symbol on their shirts was an expression of “a legitimately held view which they are entitled to hold”.

“The officers of the band wish to correct any false impression which may be held regarding the band’s uniform being deliberately provocative and specifically designed for the parade in Londonderry,” the band said in a statement.

“The uniform in question has been worn on many previous occasions without incident or controversy.”

The band said they believe they were “unlawfully detained” by police and were considering making a complaint to the police ombudsman.

Geographical sensitivities

Speaking earlier, Supt Gordon McCalmont said “geographical sensitivities are key in this”.

“We are talking hundreds of metres here from where Bloody Sunday unfolded,” he added.

“We had made the assessment because of the views of the local residents that we had gathered over the months and the understanding from the community that the geographical sensitivities were such that any display would likely lead to a breach of the peace.”

He said members of the band did not give police their name and addresses.

Governor of the Apprentice Boys Association Graeme Stenhouse had earlier described the police’s actions as “heavy handed.”

He said it was his understanding that no crime had been committed.

“It would be nice to hear to know the opinions of senior police officers on why this approach was taken,” Mr Stenhouse said.

Tony Doherty, of the Bloody Sunday Trust, said it was disappointing “such displays were evident on Saturday and were paraded through the city”.

“This type of behaviour is already causing unnecessary tension and is having a negative impact on community relations,” he said.

Meanwhile, the PSNI said that the five people arrested on suspicion of public disorder offences in relation to the parade. They remain in custody.