DUP Challenged Over Attitude To Nationalists In Ballymena
Responding to attacks by the DUP to plans to hold an anti-internment march
in the nationalist end of Ballymena next month, North Antrim Sinn Féin
Assembly member Philip McGuigan said:
" This proposed march is not being organised by Sinn Féin or on our behalf.
It is being organised by a local flute band. However what has been stark has
been the reaction of local unionist politicians to the plan and in
particular the DUP.
" The proposed route of this parade is in the nationalist end of Ballymena.
It does not, unlike Orange Order parades in Ballymena and elsewhere seek to
march through areas where it would clearly cause offence. In the coming days
I will seek to meet with the residents who live along the proposed route and
also talk with the parade organisers to ensure that consultation and
dialogue have taken place before any parade proceeds.
" However it is my belief and I have stated it for some time that the
attitude of unionists in Ballymena to the nationalist community in the town
has bred great resentment and anger particularly amongst young nationalists.
Discrimination is rife. Attacks on Catholics and their homes are routine The
local catholic church is frequently attacked. Senior members of the DUP took
part in the blockade of the church. Nationalist housing estates in the town
are neglected. The Council is seen as a cold house. This reality needs to be
tackled by the DUP as the lead unionist party in the town.
" Ballymena can only move forward if everyone in the town is treated with
equality. The days of second class citizenship which the unionist parties in
Ballymena still hark after have to be left behind. There can be no other
realistic solution to the towns many problems." ENDS