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Resolution to Rasharkin dispute is through dialogue

20 August, 2012 - by Daithí McKay


North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said that the flying of loyalist paramilitary flags at the Ballymaconolly band parade in Rasharkin on Friday night was a direct breach of the Parades Commission determination that was upheld earlier that day in court.

"He added that a lack of leadership within unionism on the issue of parades is only making the situation worse.

He said

"I have been speaking to residents in the south of the village, many of whom have young families who were intimidated by some of the parade supporters who subjected them to sectarian abuse and threats.

"Supporters remained at the Glebe/Church Road crossroads long after the parade had passed which raised tensions unnecessarily.

"The Glebe Road part of the parade route effectively means that the policing operation and a large number of loyalists remain in the village until 10pm and that is something that the Parades Commission needs to address.

"The village was effectively locked down for most of the day for a police operation that will cost tens of thousands of pounds and that is unacceptable.

"Before this parade the Parades Commission listed 5 flags that were the only flags that were allowed to be unfurled near the protest and this was as a result of paramilitary flags being flown in previous years.

"This part of the determination, which is deemed to be law, was broken on a number of occasions with both UVF and UDA flags being unfurled.

"We have collated evidence of this and believe that the Commission and the PSNI must take this kind of intimidation seriously by reprimanding the parade organisers for allowing this to take place.

"Everyone is glad that things passed off without major incident but that is no consolation to those who had to put up with the behaviour of a number of supporters in the south of the village and around Glebe Park in particular.

"Those organising parades in the village must talk to the residents who have concerns about these parades. The entire community needs to move forward and continue to make progress but the loyal orders and bands cannot maintain a position of not talking to anybody whilst the rest of society has now been involved in dialogue and bridge-building for years now. This lack of leadership is only making matters worse."

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