Colum Eastwood MP, Strand Road Police Station

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood speaking to the media outside Strand Road Police Station in Derry, saying he will not be partaking any further in a investigation after being asked to attend for interview for alleged participation in an unnotified parade.

The PSNI wants to interview prominent members of the Bloody Sunday families over an allegation they took part in an illegal procession when they walked to court in Derry together earlier this year, their solicitor has said.

“Even Soldier F wasn’t threatened with arrest at any time in the last 51 years, but we have now at least five prominent members of the Bloody Sunday justice campaign who do face arrest if they don’t go down to Strand Road police station and be interviewed under caution,” the families’ lawyer Ciarán Shields said.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has branded the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) investigation into his participation in the incident in which he accompanyied the families to Bishop Street courthouse in Derry on August 25th as a “total and utter farce”. He made the comments as he walked out of Strand Road police station in Derry in protest after being asked to attend an interview under caution.

He said he attended the station to “lodge a protest” but left after 20 minutes as the PSNI “refused to send anybody down to interview me.”

Asked by reporters outside the police station about the potential consequences, Mr Eastwood said “if the PSNI think arresting a member of parliament for walking alongside and standing with the Bloody Sunday families is the right approach well, they know where I live”.

The Irish Times understands that as well as the Bloody Sunday relatives, the PSNI want to interview a number of those who accompanied them, including solicitors and politicians from both the SDLP and Sinn Féin.

Describing it as a “total farce”, Mr Eastwood said he had agreed to come to the police station “for one reason only, I was going to be very clear with the police that no member of the Bloody Sunday families will be attending to take part.”

He said the investigation was based on a “mischievous complaint” and he had attended the police station as “the MP for this city to make it very clear this is not a process that we think has any merit and it is not a process that we will be taking part in.

He is to raise the matter with the North’s Chief Constable, Jon Boutcher.

In a post on social media on Friday, the loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson said he was the complainant in the case who “reported this obvious law-breaking by Colum Eastwood” and it was “very enlightening to see the disrespect for the rule of law from an MP”.

In a statement, the PSNI said “an investigation has commenced and, as enquiries are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this time.”

In Northern Ireland, the organisers of public processions are required to notify the Parades Commission of their intentions. It is an offence to take part in a parade which has not been notified to the Commission.

Thirteen people died when members of the British army’s Parachute Regiment opened fire on anti-internment marchers in Derry’s Bogside on January 30th, 1972, which became known as Bloody Sunday. A fourteenth died later.

A former member of the British army’s Parachute Regiment, Soldier F is charged with the murder of Jim Wray and William McKinney as well as five attempted murders on Bloody Sunday in Derry on January 30th 1972.

On Thursday, more than four years after the case opened at the city’s magistrates’ court, a district judge ruled that Soldier F will stand trial on all charges.

Irish Times