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O’Loan attempt to lecture Rasharkin residents ‘insulting’

17 August, 2009

North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said that the Declan O’Loan has absolutely no right to tell residents in Rasharkin that they should not protest at a 41-band loyalist parade through the village next Friday night.

Mr McKay said

“Declan O’Loan has criticised me for drawing attention to the contentious nature of the Ballymaconnolly parade. It is unfortunate that he hasn’t spoken to either the 100+ residents who spoke at the public meeting here on Thursday night or the majority of people here who oppose this parade. He is letting the DUP pull his strings. What he should be doing is listening to the residents and the businesspeople in Rasharkin. They want this parade stopped as it is affecting their families, their businesses and their community. Putting your head down will not make this problem go away. What is required is leadership and I would urge him to stand up for the right of people to live here free of sectarian harassment rather than undermining them.

“Mr O’Loan’s theory that everything will be okay in Rasharkin if residents put their heads down, stayed indoors or went away for the evening is nonsense. The fact of the matter is that the Residents here have achieved legally binding determinations on all contentious parades here for the first time because they put their head above the parapet and refused to bow down to loyalist intimidation. Progress is being made because people are standing up for their rights. Protests in recent years have achieved this.

“Residents here are willing to engage in dialogue with parade organisers and have been continuously snubbed and insulted. That is what is at the core of the problem, a lack of mutual respect.

“The SDLP’s personal attack on me is merely a smokescreen for the fact that they are not relevant when it comes to the issue of parades in Rasharkin and they have no strategy or notion of how to resolve it. Sinn Féin will continue to be pro-active in opposing sectarianism of any sort in this area. Declan O’Loan should apologise for what he has said and recognise that it is not residents protesting which is raising tensions here at this moment in time it is the fact that a band is inviting thousands of loyalists, many with strong associations with the UDA and UVF, to march through this village.” ENDS

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