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Plans to bring 40 loyalist bands into Rasharkin is "pure and utter madness"

8 August, 2006

Rasharkin Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí McKay has voiced his extreme concern after learning that the Ballymaconnelly Flute Band has applied to bring over 40 loyalist bands and over 1,000 loyalists into the nationalist village on the 18th August. Many of the bands have links to both the UVF and UDA. The village's Residents‚ Association is to present the Commission with a 100 page+ document tomorrow detailing the breaches of last year's Parades Commission Decision. The Commission will also be presented with over 84 pages detailing the results of a questionnaire carried out in Rasharkin showing that over 95% of residents are totally opposed to the parade taking place.

Cllr McKay said:

"The decision by Ballymaconnelly Band to try and flood this village with loyalists on 18th August is simply pure and utter madness. Residents in this village have made strenuous efforts over the past year to try and open up dialogue with the organisers of this parade to try and come to an amicable resolution to this issue but unfortunately these have not been responded to.

"Last year the presence of loyalist paramilitary bands was well documented in the press and the parade organisers have again applied to bring these bands through the village this year. The silence of Unionist politicians in regard to the presence of loyalist paramilitaries at this parade cannot go on.

"One of the bands invited to Rasharkin is the Freeman Memorial Band from Coleraine, named after a UVF member who blew himself up in Coleraine in the 1970s. This band was also invited to a DUP parade in Rathfriland last September so the DUP's stance on the inclusion of them in the Rasharkin parade will really be a litmus test of their approach toward loyalist paramilitaries in this area.

"We will be telling the Parades Commission that this parade remains unacceptable to residents in this village. This is a 90% nationalist village and its residents have rights that must be upheld. In the last two years there has been an assault on a Catholic woman, tricolours burnt in the street and hundreds of drunken loyalists intimidating and harassing residents. The people in this village will continue to have no confidence in the Parades Commission whilst it continues to facilitate loyalist paramilitaries marching through Rasharkin." ENDS

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