Page last updated at 21:30 GMT, Friday, 31 July 2009 22:30 UK

DPP disruption 'juvenile' - PSNI

protest
Protesters threw stink bombs and chanted anti-PSNI slogans

Dissident republicans who disrupted a District Policing Partnership (DPP) meeting in Londonderry have been described as "juvenile".

About 30 protesters threw stink bombs, blew whistles and chanted anti-police slogans at the Tower Hotel meeting.

The meeting between the local district policing partnership and the PSNI was called off. No-one was arrested.

Inspector John Burrows said the actions had "overstepped the mark of a peaceful protest".

"This type of juvenile behaviour will not prevent police in Derry from doing their job," he added.

The protest had been advertised on dissident republican websites.

A posting said it was planned by the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, in conjunction with other republican organisations, and was intended to highlight a "harassment campaign" campaign against republicans.

Police going into meeting

The meeting will be held at a later date

Anti-terrorism powers were due to be discussed at the meeting after there was almost 700 stop and search incidents in Derry in the last three months.

Sinn Fein councillor Elisha McLaughlin, who chairs the Derry DPP, said the protester's behaviour was immature.

"Everyone is entitled to a peaceful protest," she said.

"We would encourage anyone who has issues to come into the room to put those issues to the PSNI or to the DPP, but to blow whistles and prevent a very important meeting happening I believe to be a bit immature.

SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey said the protesters showed a complete disregard for democracy.

"These people talk about the democratic process and the lack of accountability.

"This meeting was a further chance for the general public to give serious questions and comments to the police on a whole range of issues," he said.

"However, they were prevented from doing so by the dissidents as their behaviour forced the meeting to be stopped."

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams should condemn those behind the protest.

"It is clear that those responsible for this disruption, which verged on violence, are dissident republicans who completely oppose the police and any other body tasked with maintaining law and order," the DUP representative said.

Employment Minister Sir Reg Empey was also critical of the protesters.

"These elements are bringing a bad headline to the very people we are trying to persuade to invest in the north-west," he said

"I wonder how much food these so-called protesters are going to put on people's tables and what help are they going to give to those struggling to pay their rent and their mortgages?"

The Chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, Barry Gilligan, condemned the disruption.

"The behaviour and actions of the protestors was completely unacceptable and it is not right that those present were subjected to such threatening behaviour," he said.

"DPPs exist to provide the forum for the community to engage with the police and discuss issues of concern. We know that the community want and have the right to access policing services.

"Sadly the actions of the protestors prevented that democratic right happening today."

The Real IRA said it was responsible for sending bullets to police relatives working in a bank in Derry this week.

They were sent in an envelope to employees at the Ulster Bank on the Culmore Road last week.



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