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Butler hits out at Stoneyford Orange Parade through mixed areas in village

17 June, 2007

Sinn Féin MLA Paul Butler has called on Lisburn Council to withhold funding for an Eleventh night bonfire celebration in Stoneyford village if the organisers do not withdraw their application to the Parades Commission to march through a number of mixed housing developments in the village.

Mark Harbison has made an application to the Parades Commission to march through the 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.

Sinn Féin had given a "guarded welcome" to proposals by prominent Stoneyford loyalist Mark Harbison to replace the village's controversial Eleventh Night bonfires with a beacon. Mark Harbison, who was convicted of riotous behaviour at Drumcree in 2002, made an application to Lisburn City Council for a grant of up to £3,000 to fund the "celebrations".

The loyalist plans to organise a beacon in Stoneyford village as the focal point of the night - as opposed to the traditional bonfire. Mr Harbison has also planned for fireworks, children's entertainment such as a bouncy castle, and live music.

Paul Butler said:

"I had given this a guarded welcome, given the history of Stoneyford and the number of sectarian attacks on Catholics in that area, and also the previous Eleventh Night bonfires which have been built near a reservoir and caused damage.

"However, our support for this proposal was on the understanding that there was a move away from sectarian coat trailing and intimidation of the Catholic community in the village.

"The attempt to march through mixed areas in the village where many Catholics live is an exercise in sectarian intimidation. Once again there is an attempt to use the opportunity of the Orange marching season to intimidate nationalists and decent unionists who want nothing other than to be allowed to live peacefully with their neighbours.

"This notorious band has applied and been correctly denied permission to parade into these mixed residential areas, and Sinn Fein will be making very clear to the Parades Commission that such an exercise in sectarian intimidation must not be permitted this year. Local residents do not want it.

"I am also challenging both the DUP and UUP - who have long established links to leading loyalists in the village - to publicly condemn this parade application and am calling on them to use their influence with these people to get the application withdrawn as soon as possible." ENDS

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