Rasharkin parade passes off peacefully

Protesters at the loyalist parade through Rasharkin. Picture Matt Bohill
Guest Newsdesk

A loyalist band parade through the mainly nationalist village of Rasharkin has passed off without incident.

The Parades Commission had placed restrictions on the parade, including limiting the size of the contentious march with a limit on the number of bands permitted to take part.

Only a single drum beat was played on part of the route between Orangefield Place and Main Street and organisers were instructed it must disperse no later than 9pm.

Two nationalist residents protests, that in previous years has attracted several hundred people was reduced to just local people holding a banner reading 'Dialogue and respect harms no tradition'.

Two nationalist groups, Rasharkin Residents' Collective and Rasharkin Residents' Association, were given permission to hold separate protests involving up to 50 people on the village's Main Street.

However, only around 30 people in total held a protest in the heavy rain as the band parade passed.

The march has been organised by Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors and is described as a “main fundraiser and traditional annual parade and competition”.

Among the bands were the controversial Dervock Young Defenders.

Last Twelfth of July the band were caught up in controversy when members engaged in a verbal exchange with Causeway Coast and Glens councillor Padraig McShane.

McShane was later convicted of assaulting a police officer and taking part in an unnotified protest.

The Parades Commission had ruled that the band would not be allowed to take part a march in August last year but agreed they could take part in last night's parade saying every march is taken on its own merits.

North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan said; "Thankfully the parade passed off peacefully but that doesn't disguise the fact that the village of Rasharkin was locked down by the PSNI for most of the evening, disrupting local businesses and the normal routine for local residents.

"There needs to a local resolution to this yearly problem.

"That can only happen when the parade organisers fully respect the rights of Rasharkin residents and by engaging seriously with them", he added.

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