Rasharkin parade ruling 'does not go far enough'
Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has called on Ballymaconnelly band not to allow loyalist paramilitary bands to participate in their parade in Rasharkin next week. He was speaking after the Parades Commission made a ruling on the parade. Mr McKay said the ruling from the determination 'did not go far enough' by ruling that the parade must be finished by 9pm instead of 9.30pm. The Commission has upheld its decision to reduce the number of bands participating to 25.
He said:"Even though this parade was reduced to 25 bands last year loyalist paramilitary bands including Freeman Memorial band named after a UVF member from Coleraine still were invited to parade with loyalist paramilitary flags. This is unacceptable and is intimidating to the people that live here.
"The Parades Commission determination will not prevent the UDA and UVF displays we have seen here in recent years. Therefore there is now an opportunity for the organisers of the parade to prevent the display of flags that carry the colours, design and logos of both these loyalist groups. To allow them to be displayed will do further unnecessary damage to community relations.
"The Residents Association and myself outlined to the Commission that this parade is on far too late at night and there should be no parading after dark in the village. So the decision to cut the finishing time from 9.30 to 9pm is a small step in the right direction.
"However the situation we have now where the organisers of this parade refuse to speak to residents is an untenable position. Residents, particularly those living in the south of the village find this parade in its current form threatening and intimidating. If the organisers of this parade do not talk to residents then the Commission must take stronger actions against the parade in the future.
"There is a lot of good work taking place to improve community relations in this area and that should not be undermined by parties from any quarter. " ENDS