Northern Ireland

Parades Commission restricts Rasharkin march

The Parades Commission has placed restrictions on a march in Rasharkin due to take place on Friday 20 August.

The organisers, the Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band, wanted to go through the County Antrim village and then back again.

However, the commission has banned the return parade.

There was minor trouble at the parade last year when some golf balls were thrown at the marchers. Residents also blew whistles and horns.

The decision to restrict this year's parade has been welcomed by Sinn Fein North Antrim MLA Daithi McKay but criticised by his DUP counterpart, Mervyn Storey.

Mr Storey said that marchers would still have to walk back through the town to their buses informally, which was more likely to be a problem.

He added that the band had been subjected to considerable sectarian abuse during the parade last year.

However, Mr McKay said that the decision was a step in the right direction.

He added: "This parade in its present format is unacceptable to people who live in Rasharkin as it brings thousands of loyalists into a small nationalist village.

"It provides supporters of the parade with an opportunity to intimidate residents on a mass scale.

"The Parades Commission determination on this parade is a marked improvement on decisions that it has made in previous years.

"There are still a number of difficulties that residents here have with this parade and there is an onus on the parade organisers to now engage with the residents association."

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