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Catholic residents move out as loyalists take over Rasharkin for night

18 August, 2006

The Parades Commission has agreed to allow nearly 2,000 loyalists to assemble in the nationalist village of Rasharkin tonight which will result in many Catholic families being forced to leave their homes for the evening. The Parades Commission have put no restrictions on the parade which has been passed to include 40 bands and over 1,200 loyalist supporters.

This time last year there were 3 attacks on properties in the village in an effort to try and intimidate residents away from protesting against the Ballymaconnelly Parade through the village. This year many residents are again being forced to leave their homes, especially in the wake of some of the intimidation that occured from loyalist supporters in the south of the village last year.

Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí McKay said this morning :"This is a totally unacceptable situation. The violent actions of loyalists at this parade in the past two years, including an assault on a Catholic woman, have clearly been ignored to the amazement of local residents.

"The Parades Commission have decided instead to hem protesting residents behind barriers whilst other residents will have to sit in their houses and watch as many loyalist paramilitaries wade through the area. It is clear that loyalist paramilitaries are involved, indeed some of the bands are quite open about their connections with both the UDA and UVF.

"There is no doubt that this Parades Commission decision has not taken into account the right of residents to live free from sectarian harassment and it is a very concerning development when residents here are subject to restrictions whilst loyalist paramilitaries have not."

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