DUP MP Ian Paisley has spoke of his outrage at a Parades Commission decision to impose new restrictions on the annual Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band parade.
The decision comes following protests by a nationalist group known as the Rasharkin Residents Collective.
Mr Paisley commented: “Yet again the Parades Commission have exposed themselves as being at the mercy of republicans. How the commission have managed to ignore the blatantly obvious, that these protestors are only going to be at the roadside in order to increase tensions, beggars belief.
“After the most peaceful July marching period in recent memory, this was the first opportunity for the commission to demonstrate compromise, but they’ve chosen to do the complete opposite. The fact is that these new restrictions mean the bands are only allowed to play a single drum beat whilst passing the protestors. If these people are so offended then why on earth are they going out of their way to stand on the side of the road?
“Unionists across the country all made their peaceful protests around the twelfth of July, voicing their concerns and taking things no further. This republican group choose to complain, threaten to protest, and as such get given what they want. This sends an extremely disappointing message to the unionist community and makes it abundantly clear to us that the commission care very little for the traditions of unionism, instead choosing to bow to the intimidatory tactics of republicans.
“I of course urge our marchers and bands to maintain their impeccable reputation by adhering to the extremely disappointing sanctions that have been placed upon them. It is very worrying to think that the commission are choosing to time and time and again make decisions to further test the waring patience of unionists across the country who have become completely disillusioned with this one eyed commission. Either they have exceptionally short memories or are extremely naive if they believe that the goodwill shown by loyalists and unionists this year will continue if the commission continue to implement their republican agenda.”