Ulster Unionist representatives have urged republicans to show tolerance and respect at this Friday’s annual band parade in the village of Rasharkin by the Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band.
North Antrim MLA Robin Swann said:
“The Parades Commission has had observers and Commissioners present in Rasharkin in previous years so they must be fully aware of the disgraceful nature of the sectarian abuse being hurled towards participants in a lawful and peaceful parade.
“It is perfectly clear that the protestors are motivated by intolerance of anything which does not fit their definition of culture. The abuse and intolerance which they show on an annual basis is proof that they are hell bent on being offended and that they will not be satisfied until any vestiges of the minority Protestant and Unionist culture are eradicated from the village of Rasharkin.
“Having attended the parade over the past number of years, I have witnessed the actions of “protestors” at parades where bandsmembers have been on the receiving end of vile and abusive comments as well as intimidating behaviour.”
Ballymoney Councillor Darryl Wilson said:
“Yet again the Parades Commission has imposed restrictions on the Parade which defy both logic and reason. There is no question that the bands and spectators have behaved in an impeccable fashion, especially over the last two years, but rather than be rewarded for their good behaviour and compliance with determinations, the restrictions increase with each passing year.
“Once again the number of bands allowed to take part in the parade has been limited to 25, which places an unreasonable limit on the right to peacefully and lawfully celebrate Protestant heritage and culture.
“It is also unreasonable to stipulate that a single drum beat be played while the bands march past the protests areas. This is simply pandering to previous Republican protests which have been unlawful and violent. They should not be rewarded for their intolerance.”