Unionists unhappy over Republican parade
UNIONISTS who monitored events during a Republican parade in Rasharkin on Sunday say they are unhappy with a number of aspects surrounding the march.
The march in Rasharkin was organised to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of IRA volunteer Gerard Casey, who was murdered as he slept in his bed at Rosnashane in 1989.
In giving the go-ahead for the parade without restrictions the Parades Commission had noted that the organisers had provided assurances in respect of paramilitary displays, which the Commission said they understood was in accordance with the wishes of Gerard Casey's family.
And the Commission had encouraged those organising this parade to take cognisance of behaviour in the vicinity of places of worship.
Unionists claimed marshals attempted to direct traffic during the parade and alleged flags representing the Basque separatist group ETA were allegedly flown.
North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey also claimed that the parade continued outside a Gospel Hall whilst Sunday School classes were ongoing inside.
He said: "Republicans cannot set rules for others in relation to parades in the unionist community and then be allowed to flaunt them," he said.
"They need to realise that Unionists are beginning to pay attention to their activities."
The Assemblyman said the parade had followed a spate of intimidating attacks on the minority Protestant community in Rasharkin.
He added: "We are not going to turn a blind eye to what they do. Those days are over."
Mr Storey said: "Sinn Fein organised this parade and it's now over. The village needs to go back to normality and we need to ensure that Protestants can live in peace."
Ballymoney Mayor, DUP councillor John Finlay, made reference to an ETA flag.
He said: "That is terrible that they are now displaying flags of terrorist organisations and they carried photos which I assume were IRA men. We thought we had left these days behind and instead they are now glorifying those who committed murder."
Progressive Unionist Party politician Ken Wilkinson claimed Rasharkin was an intimidating place for Protestants to live at present.
He said that in the past Republicans had made comments about paramilitary trappings being associated with loyalist bands, but added that work had been done to eradicate this.
"What I witnessed today was absolutely disgraceful," he said on Sunday.
"Republicans need to clean up their act before they come to us."
Meanwhile, Ballymena Parades Forum has hit out at the Parades Commission over the Republican demonstration in Rasharkin.
A spokesman for the body said the decision had been made to monitor the event "in an effort to establish if the Parades Commission applies the same criteria to Republican parades as it does to those that take place in the Loyalist community".
He said onlookers were "aghast" at what they claimed were "flagrant breaches" of the Parades Commission's code of conduct, including several bass drums being adorned with painted images of AK47 rifles.
A Parades Commission spokesman said that the body also had representatives monitoring the parade and that it expected to receive their full reports within days of the event..
"We would stress that in north Antrim and anywhere in Northern Ireland the Commission acts in an even-handed manner," the spokesman added.
At the time of going to press no statement regarding the parade was sent to us from Sinn Fein.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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