Funding for Eleventh Night Festival is reward for bigotry
Sinn Féin MLA Paul Butler has accused Lisburn Council of supporting the activities of loyalists, who are determined to intimidate Catholics in Stoneyford, by granting money for an Eleventh night festival in the village.
This decision has been based on purely sectarian grounds and cannot be justified by any decent standards and at its worst is rewarding bigotry and sectarianism.
Last year this event along with an illegal march through the village both stunts were used to intimidate the local Catholic community said Mr Butler.
"Council officers had already rejected an application by the Stoneyford Jubilee Committee for funding towards an Eleventh night festival because it did not meet the Council's criteria. Despite this the DUP overturned the decision of Council officers at Lisburn Council's monthly meeting on Tuesday night and gave funding for this sectarian event.
"It is a disgrace and is more evidence to support the claim that Lisburn Council is the most sectarian council in the north of Ireland.
"This follows on from the decision at the Council's AGM where Sinn Fein, the largest nationalist party on the Council, were excluded from all positions on the Council.
"I am appalled at the SDLP for supporting the decision of unionists to exclude Sinn Fein. The SDLP are providing political cover for this sectarian council at a time when Catholics are being forced out of Stoneyford.
"Lisburn Council's decision to give funding for an Eleventh night Festival in Stoneyford will be challenged by the party. We intend to take this matter up with the Equality Commission. Ratepayer's money is being given for an event that is organised as a show of strength and intimidation against the Catholic community.
"Lisburn Council should reverse this decision to withhold funding for future Eleventh night celebrations in Stoneyford village and should not give into intimidation." Críoch
- A report drawn up by Council officers after last year's event said that community relations had been damaged as a result of inflammatory speeches made on the night. It also made reference to an illegal march through the village a few days before the festival, which it said, heightened tensions in the Stoneyford area. The report concluded that the Council may not wish to be associated with the Stoneyford Jubilee Committee in organising Eleventh night events in the future.
- Mark Harbison who is chair of the Stoneyford Jubilee Committee made a presentation to Lisburn Council's Leisure Services Committee in November last year for funding for this year's Eleventh night celebrations.
- Mark Harbison has also made an application to the Parades Commission to march through mixed areas on the 11th July last year. The Parades Commission rejected the proposals and confined the Pride of the Village Flute Band to the main street in Stoneyford. However, the Pride of the village Flute band went ahead and marched through the mixed areas a week before the Twelfth of July.
- Another application has been made to the parades commission to march through mixed areas of Stoneyford this 11th July. The application is in Mark Harbison's name.
- Mark Harbison was convicted of riotous behaviour at Drumcree in 2002.