BALLYMONEY Councillor, John Finlay, has issued the following statement: “Despite the outrageous ruling by the Parades Commission which, sadly, was upheld by the High Court, and also the provocative behaviour of some elements in Rasharkin, I am delighted that Friday evening’s annual band parade, organised by Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors flute band, passed off so peacefully and successfully.
“It was fantastic evening, and I warmly congratulate the band for displaying great restraint in the face of the Parade Commission’s intolerant and bigoted decision to radically reduce the size of its parade.
“I also thank all the other bands and the supporters who gathered in the village in solidarity with the Ballymaconnelly band. While the Parades Commission and its allies should be holding their heads in shame, you can proudly hold yours up high.
“The arrogance of the Parades Commission knows no bounds, and, if it has its way, I fear that Rasharkin will become another ‘no go’ area for Protestants and their traditional and peaceful parades.
“For the sake of the future of the dwindling Protestant population in Rasharkin, and in the interests of human rights, parity of esteem and a shared future, it is imperative that all steps are taken to ensure that this does not happen.
“The Commission, meanwhile, would not look out of place in a totalitarian state. It certainly has no place in a democratic society, and I sincerely hope that, by next year’s marching season, it has been consigned to the history books.”