Rasharkin bands to walk return leg
- The Parades Commission has given the green light to a revised route submitted by a loyalist band ahead of a controversial parade through a Co Antrim village.
Wednesday, 18 August 2010
The late application was submitted by the Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band on Wednesday, 48 hours before the parade is due to take place.
Last week, the Parades Commission allowed the band to march up the Main Street but banned marchers from walking the return leg, a decision which the DUP had branded "unworkable".
Forty loyalist bands are expected to march at the event, which has faced protests from residents in the past two years.
The revised application means marchers will now take a different route home, along the Moneyleck, Bann and Glebe roads.
The Commission said the revised route had replaced its original determination.
"The Commission believes that since the parade will pass the main part of the village just once, and that the new route provides for a continuous parade with less potential for significant stoppages, that no restrictions are necessary," a spokesperson said.
The Commission also called on all those involved to "do all they can to ensure as peaceful an event as possible."
"The Commission reiterates its view that direct dialogue between the residents and marching organisations is the only way to reach a long term resolution to parading issues in Rasharkin."
DUP North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey has welcomed the decision.
"Commonsense, at last, 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", Mr Storey said.
"Whilst the unrepresentative republican residents group has a goal to stop all things Protestant in the village, the band has went the extra mile to ensure a peaceful and safe evening for all in attendance."
On Thursday, Lagan Valley DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson warned against a "huge risk of public disorder" due to the initial restrictions imposed by the Commission.
Sinn Féin North Antrim MLA Daithí McKay accused the DUP of "scaremongering".
Mr McKay said that the Rasharkin Residents' Association were not consulted on the latest application and will be requesting a review of the decision.
"The people of Rasharkin are extremely angry that the Parades Commission has done a u-turn in regard to Friday night's parade, less than 48 hours before it is due to take place", Mr McKay said.
"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."
Last year there was minor trouble at the parade when some missiles were thrown at marchers.
© UTV News