DUP Councillor, John Finlay, has reacted angrily to the Parades Commission determinations in relation to Rasharkin and Dunloy on 12 July.
Cllr Finlay said: “I know the people Rasharkin and Dunloy well, and I am certain that the vast majority of the residents of both villages are quite content that the local feeder parades should be allowed to go ahead unmolested on Saturday 12 July. The Twelfth is, after all, the zenith of the Protestant marching season and there has always been cross-community acceptance of the significance of that date. However, in today’s society, intolerance of the loyal orders is being driven by malcontents and sinister elements within republicanism, and the lawful authorities seem determined to pander to their insatiable agenda.
“This year we have a completely new Parades Commission which, incredibly, seems to actually be worse than the previous one. In its short life, the Commission has quickly earned a reputation for changing its mind and for caving in to threats from so-called concerned residents groups. In the case of Rasharkin and Dunloy on the Twelfth of July, it has certainly done the latter. Under the guise of respect for the rights of both sides, it has surrendered to militant republicans and it needs to change its foolish determination in relation to both villages.
“Ballymaconnelly LOL 360 and Rasharkin Chosen Few LOL 694 have been told that they cannot parade through Sunnyside Drive in Rasharkin on their return from the Ballymoney demonstration on the Twelfth evening. Sunnyside Drive contains some two dozen houses and about ten of these are occupied by Protestants, but the Commission has decided to deny these people their civil rights. This sort of appeasement merely exacerbates and increases community tensions. Once again, Republicans have decided that they will show no tolerance or respect for their Protestant neighbours for a short time on the evening of the main day of the marching season, and the Parades Commission has once again rewarded them for their intransigence.
“Dunloy has long been a “no-go” area for the loyal orders. Indeed, for many years now, through the actions of the police and now the Parades Commission, the members of my own lodge, Dunloy LOL 496, have been prevented from marching on 12 July to lay a wreath in memory of our dead. The same totally disgraceful restrictions have been imposed again this year.
“As law-abiding citizens, the lodges and bands will adhere to the Parades Commission determinations, but that must not be regarded as a sign of weakness. It is imperative that the civil and religious liberties of the Protestant people of Rasharkin and Dunloy are no longer treated with contempt, and, even at this late hour, I would appeal to the Commission to change its mind.”