Mr Robin Swann, the North Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assemblyman and Chairman of the Stormont Public Accounts Committee, has warned the Parades Commission that “it urgently needs to wind its neck in and stop creating hardships for the Protestant community”.
Assemblyman Swann, a Past Master in both the Orange and Black Institution and the UUP Chief Whip, was speaking in the aftermath of the annual Rasharkin band parade amid claims republicans pelted parade supporters with missiles.
Mr Swann said: “The annual parade itself passed off peacefully because of the dedication, discipline and professionalism of those on the march and supporters watching.
“The same mature tolerance cannot be said for the supporters of the so-called ‘Rasharkin Residents Collective’.
“Given the antagonistic behaviour and goading by these specific supporters, the serious question must be addressed by the Parades Commission if the so-called RRC is nothing more than a mainstream or dissident militant republican front organization?
“The Parades Commission needs to also seriously wind its neck in and recognize that the annual Rasharkin band parade has taken place peacefully and professionally in the village for many years.
“By pandering to the whims of republican front movements, such as the RRC, the Parades Commission is creating unnecessary hardships for the Protestant community.
“It is the Parades Commission which is ultimately responsible for the trouble in Rasharkin, not the bands on the march.
“Long-term, the Parades Commission must be disbanded as it has become the root cause of many parading issues, not the solution. I also call on the police to fully investigate the claims of missiles being thrown at band supporters as cars were leaving Rasharkin and, if necessary, bring the guilty before the courts,” said Assemblyman Swann.