Northern Ireland

Loyalist flute band Rasharkin return parade permitted

The Parades Commission has accepted a revised application from a loyalist band for its parade through Rasharkin on Friday evening.

Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band will still only parade through the village once but is now permitted to return by another route.

The commission said there was now less potential for significant stoppages and "no restrictions are necessary".

The decision has been welcomed by the DUP but rejected by Sinn Fein.

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 new route for the parade is down Main Street in the village before returning by Moneyleck Road, Bann Road and Glebe Road to its originally assembly point.

A statement released by the band said that it was still disgusted by its treatment by the Parades Commission.

The band had originally wanted to parade back via its outward route.

Appeal

It said: "This seemingly independent body has rewarded violence, and punished those adhering to the law.

"The route as it now stands will create a further and deepening divide in our already damaged community."

The band appealed to troublemakers to stay away from the parade.

"The band, in no uncertain terms, do not wish for any trouble. We will conduct our parade the same way we always have, with dignity and discipline."

DUP North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey said that "common sense has prevailed".

"The original determination by the Parades Commission was the most unworkable and impractical determination I have ever witnessed.

"It rewarded violence and penalised those who kept the law.

"This is a mature decision which should be praised."

'Another review'

However his Sinn Fein counterpart, Daithi McKay, said that his party and the Rasharkin Residents' Association were angry that they had not been consulted about the new application.

He said that they would be requesting another review.

"The route that the Parades Commission has allowed is a two-way parade and will take in parts of the village that have never been marched through by these 40 bands before.

"The Residents' Association will be meeting in the village tonight to discuss the Parades Commission's u-turn and will also look at putting alternatives to the Parades Commission tomorrow that are acceptable to the local people."

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