THE Mayor of Ballymoney and Rasharkin Parish Priest have issued a joint appeal for calm in the village.
The statement of belief from Cllr Ian Stevenson and Rev John J Murray comes only hours before a controversial parade is to take place in Rasharkin.
The Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute band annual parade will take place tonight. A protest has already been logged with the Parades Commission and a strong police presence is expected.
The statement reads: ‘The following are joint areas of agreement by ourselves as people of influence and it is our sincere hope and prayer that they will help to bring some degree of peace, having reached these through amicable discussion.
‘It is our desire that they may have some degree of influence for good, as indeed, they are meant for good.
‘1. We fully believe in the Bible commandments to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul and mind and our neighbours as ourselves and encourage all, including ourselves, to endeavour to always honour these commandments.
‘2. It is our firm belief that there ought to be no such thing as a nationalist/unionist community or Protestant/Roman Catholic community, just one community, being by belief all descended from Adam.
‘3. We believe in the absolute right of people to worship according to their conscience, and in their freedom so to do, without fear and that, very often, our faith is dependent on which family we were born into. We believe in freedom of religion.
‘4. We totally oppose all criminal activity, and specifically view those crimes inspired by religious or political differences as abhorrent.
‘5. We fully support the PSNI and all those legitimately charged to do so, in the proper upholding of law and order and ask people to uphold the law and only seek to change it, if desired, by lawful means.
‘6. We fully recognise the rights of people from whatever background to peacefully express their peaceful culture and condemn violence and intolerance.
‘7. We believe that Rasharkin is a good place to live in and should be open to people of all peaceful aspirations, calling as we do for things to swiftly return to calm and for thoughts to be given to our joint statement of belief.’