Belfast Telegraph

Band urged to avoid IRA trappings at Lurgan St Patrick's parade

By Staff Reporter

A republican band has been urged to ensure that no paramilitary trappings are on display when it takes part in a St Patrick's Day parade.

DUP representatives have asked members of the Julie Dougan Memorial Band not to damage community relations in Lurgan on the march this Friday.

Julie Dougan is believed to have died "on active service" for the IRA in 1972.

Carla Lockhart MLA said: "The St Patrick's Day parade in Lurgan, organised by the GAA, should be a family-orientated day with no links to paramilitary trappings, symbols or memorials of paramilitaries.

"The GAA promotes itself as an inclusive organisation and should adhere to that, particularly when organising an event of this nature.

"The message should be clear from all sections of our community that paramilitarism should not be glorified or promoted in any way.

"Having represented Lurgan for over 10 years this damages the good relations work that has and continues to take place in the town.

"I am outraged that a St Patrick's Day parade is tarnished with such trappings."

David Simpson MP added: "I am saddened to learn that a band who remembers an IRA member is allowed to take part in a parade which should be open for the entire community.

"However, I have been liaising with the police on this matter. They have given assurances that there will be no paramilitary emblems on display.

"They also made clear that robust action will be taken if there is a breach of the terms and conditions of the Parades Commission or if there is any anti-social behaviour on Friday.

"Allowing the community to come together is important and it is vital that the real reason why St Patrick's Day is celebrated is recognised."

This is not the first controversy surrounding a St Patrick's Day band parade.

Last week, calls were made for the Orange Order to ban a flute band that honours a loyalist linked to a triple sectarian murder from marching in a St Patrick's Day counter parade.

The inclusion of the Noel Clarke Memorial Flute Band in the Lisburn parade was branded an "insult to victims".

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