Belfast Telegraph

Loyalist band parade barred from return through nationalist village Rasharkin

The Parades Commission has ruled that a controversial march through a Co Antrim village will once again have to make its return journey via a country route.

The parade by the Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band through predominantly nationalist Rasharkin has seen a growing level of violence in the last two years.

It will be restricted to one route through the village, returning to the dispersal point on Moneyleck Road and Glebe Road next Friday.

The commission stated it “believes that this determination, in the absence of an agreed outcome, represents the best way in which both the purpose of the parade and of the related protest can be facilitated.”

Sinn Fein MLA Daithi McKay warned of growing tensions among residents in the village.

“Residents want to see a restriction to the numbers — there are over 1,500 participants and 44 bands — given the population of the village you can imagine,” he said.

“It doesn't take a genius to work out that bringing thousands of loyalists into a predominantly nationalist area will naturally raise tensions,” Mr McKay added.

North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey said he blamed Sinn Fein for drafting in hundreds of protesters for the event.

“If it was only the locals we would have only a small protest, but others are coming. In two years previous we had over 400 people and they were encouraged to come into the village by Sinn Fein and republicans, and we need to take a serious look at that,” he said.

TUV leader Jim Allister said allowing the parade to go through the village on its outward leg but requiring it to return by a country route is a “sop to the protesters and their resort to violence”.

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