Dialogue can resolve contentious Rasharkin parade - Daithí McKay
North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has welcomed the additional restrictions that have been placed on the Ballymaconnolly parade in Rasharkin this Friday night. The parade has had the number of bands allowed to participate reduced for the first time from 44 down to 25 bands.
The Sinn Féin MLA said:
"Clearly the additional restrictions on the Ballymaconnolly band parade are to be welcomed and the reduction in band numbers is a step in the right direction by the Parades Commission. Ultimately though the determination should have gone further and the only way this contentious parade can be resolved is through dialogue between local residents and the Ballymaconnolly band.
“The determination issued makes a clear reference to that and also the fact that the band's stance on engaging with residents is unacceptable.
"For the first time the Commission has said that only a limited number of flags can be unfurled along the most contentious part of the route.
“While I would have preferred that UVF and UDA flags had been banned from the parade altogether, there is an onus on the organisers to ensure that these are not unfurled as the Parade Commission have specified and there is also an onus on the PSNI to ensure that this is the case.
"This parade has caused significant damage to community relations in this area and it will again cause significant disruption in the village this Friday night. The invitation of loyalist paramilitary bands into a small village like this with a mainly Catholic population is clearly sectarian and it must stop.
“The Residents Association has made it clear that they are willing to accommodate unionist parades that are of an acceptable size and which are not intimidating or sectarian in nature. That is a reasonable position. Rather than cause further division the band needs sit down and talk with the residents now."