Northern Ireland news

Residents' group says it will cancel protest if Rasharkin parade re-routed

Previous parades through Rasharkin have been opposed by local residents
Connla Young

A residents' group in Co Antrim has said it will call off a long-running protest to a loyalist parade if it is re-routed.

Rasharkin Residents' Collective (RRC) met the Parades Commission ahead of a march organised by Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band in the mainly nationalist village on August 18.

In previous years the commission has placed restrictions on the march and the flying of paramilitary flags.

Nationalist residents claim that it results in disruption to local people and businesses.

Organisers say up to 25 bands will take part in the parade.

RRC spokesman Sean Hanna said it is willing to call off its protest, which is expected to involve up to 50 people, if the bands avoid the main street.

“We believe this is the most socially responsible option that the Parades Commission could take,” he said.

Another group, Rasharkin Residents' Association, also intends to hold a protest involving up to 50 people.

North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan, who also met the Parades Commission, claimed the march has been “beset by tensions in previous years given the behaviour of band members”.

“It is important the Parades Commission upholds the rights of local residents through making a rights-based decision with regard to the size of the parade, the route of the parade and the timing of the parade,” he said.

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