Catholic residents move out as loyalists take over Rasharkin for night
The Parades Commission has agreed to allow over 1,000 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 has put no restrictions on the parade which has been passed to include 40 bands and well over 1,000 loyalist supporters.
This year many residents are again being forced to leave their homes, especially in the wake of some of the intimidation that occurred in the village last year.
North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay said this morning:
"This is a totally unacceptable situation. The violent actions of loyalists at this parade in the past three years, including an assault on a Catholic woman, the burning of tricolours on the street and a litany of sectarian incidents have clearly been ignored to the amazement of local residents.
"The Parades Commission has decided not to put in place any legally binding code of conduct which would have meant that loyalists taking part in this parade could be brought to book for sectarian behaviour and intimidation. 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.
"People here are disgusted that the Parades Commission has refused to view evidence of how the Pride of The Maine band broke the law on numerous occasions at a parade in Rasharkin last week, and that there will be no restrictions or deterrents to stop this band coming through the village and doing the same thing again tonight
"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 the question has to be asked why Rasharkin is being treated differently by the Parades Commission than other areas in the north. It is bizarre that the Parades Commission's advice and code of conduct has been broken by parade participants for the past three consecutive years but they still refuse to do anything about it." ENDS