Northern Ireland news

Nationalist residents claim unionists held 'unnotified protest' during loyalist march

Loyalist bands marched through the mainly nationalist village of Rasharkin last week. Picture by Matt Bohill
Connla Young

A nationalist residents' group has claimed that unionists took part in an unnotified protest during a loyalist march in Co Antrim.

The Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors parade took place in the nationalist village of Rasharkin last Friday.

Both Rasharkin Residents Collective (RRC) and Rasharkin Residents' Association (RRA) held protests at Main Street.

RRC spokesman Sean Hanna last night claimed that a group of unionists also gathered nearby for what he described as an “unnotified protest”.

He said he has raised it with the Parades Commission.

Although the parade passed off without incident, UUP leader Robin Swann claimed that some band members were verbally abused by members of RRC.

He said “taunts included a reference to a band's bus which was recently burned out, flags which had been stolen” and a reference to a man from the “band community” who had recently died.

Mr Hanna rejected the allegations.

“We deny there was any provocative abuse directed towards them,” he said.

PSNI inspector Mark McClarence said the parade passed off peacefully.

“Some politicians were there to observe and were on the opposite side of the road to the protest site,” he said.

“An evidence-gathering operation was in place and all footage will be reviewed to determine if any offences have been committed.”

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