Missiles thrown after Rasharkin parade passes peacefully

A parade hosted by  Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors, passes through Rasharkin Main Street on Friday evening. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
A parade hosted by Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors, passes through Rasharkin Main Street on Friday evening. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Cars belonging to loyalist band parade supporters were pelted with stones as they left Rasharkin on Friday night, an Ulster Unionist councillor has claimed.

Cllr Darryl Wilson said a “mindless minority” of nationalists opposed to the event taking place had marred an otherwise “impeccable parade”.

He also said “abusive language was directed towards the bands and local elected representatives from the small protest which was held” in the Co Antrim village.

Cllr Wilson added: “The parade finished promptly at 9pm, when cars were leaving the village some were pelted with stones. This intolerance is wholly unacceptable, I will be in touch with the PSNI and the Parades Commission immediately.

“Unfortunately it only takes a small mindless minority to stir up unnecessary tension instead of aiming towards the shared space which we all desire.”

His party colleague, North Antrim MLA Robin Swann, also accused the protestors of “antagonistic behaviour”.

Mr Swann said: “While the bands were in the best behaviour the conduct of the protest group which designated themselves the ‘Rasharkin Residents Collective’ left a lot to be desired with the antagonist behaviour and goading of some bands.

“I was extremely disappointed to learn that spectators’ cars were stoned as they attempted to leave the village, from the same area the Collective’s protest had been placed.”

Mr Swann added: “But I am sure that the Parades Commission will turn their usual blind eye to this behaviour.”

TUV leader Jim Allister also attended the parade which was organised by the Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band.

Afterwards, he tweeted: “Well done Ballymaconnolly band for another disciplined parade in Rasharkin, despite sectarian protest.”

Sinn Fein’s Oliver McMullan said he was glad the parade had “passed off peacefully,” but added: “Genuine inclusive dialogue is the only way to resolve the outstanding issues around parades.”