DUP meet with PSNI over republican protests at parades

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DUP representatives have met with PSNI chiefs in Ballymoney to discuss recent republican protests at loyalist parades in Rasharkin.

The Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors annual parade was held in the village on Friday 22nd August.

Commenting on the meeting, Cllr John Finlay said: “The Ballymaconnelly annual parade was once again the subject of onerous restrictions imposed by the unelected, unaccountable and undemocratic parades commission.

“These included capping the number of bands permitted to take part in the parade – which has been running for decades – and specifying the start and finish times of the event, allowing just a two-hour window in which it could take place.

“Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band is to be commended for running its event with dignity against a backdrop of cultural apartheid. However, we have put it to the PSNI that whilst the participating bands observed the draconian Parades Commission restrictions, conditions relating to the Sinn Fein-led protest were broken.

“We expect the PSNI to investigate these breaches with the same fervor as has been employed when dealing with alleged breaches of determinations by participants in loyalist and loyal order parades in the past.”

Coleraine Cllr Trevor Clarke said: “We are also concerned that on other occasions un-notified parade-related protests have been facilitated without intervention by the PSNI at loyal order events in the village.

“These are nothing other than blatant attempts by republicans to provoke a response from parade participants, which would then be used by those protesting as an argument that further restrictions should be placed on any Unionist event in Rasharkin.

“Police must take the issue of parades-related protests seriously and deal with them in the same manner as they deal with allegations relating to parades. We are calling for fairness and equality in respect of these issues.”

Rasharkin Residents Association chairperson Leanne Peacock has disagreed adding: “There were no breaches of the Parades Commission determination at the Rasharkin Residents Association protest on 22nd August.

“The DUP have put out a lengthy statement but have not once outlined what they believe these breaches to be. The parade is now over and this is a blatant attempt to stir up tensions in the area.

“What has been reported to police however is instances of criminal damage to residents property whilst the parade was taking place. This is something the police should follow up on.”