Dervock Flute Band has been banned by the Parades Commission from attending Friday night’s parade in Rasharkin.
The Commission said that it had taken the decision to exclude the band from Ballymaconnelly Flute Band’s event because it “considered necessary and proportionate to mitigate heightened community tensions by excluding from the parade the Dervock Flute Band”.
The Parades Commission was given notice of a parade by Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors to include 25 bands this Friday evening as well as two counter-protest gatherings by Rasharkin Residents Association and Rasharkin Residents Collective.
In its determination, the Commission highlighted a new aspect to previous complaints from residents about the annual band parade.
It read: “A new dynamic for this year’s band parade in Raskarkin relates to Dervock Flute Band’s conduct in Ballycastle on 12th July. The Commission received information and evidence about the band’s perceived provocative conduct on that day including wearing facce masks, drunkenness and rowdy and antagonistic behaviour.
“Other complaints were a protestor’s conduct had been threatening and provocative.
“The implications of events in Ballycastle for the Rasharkin parade are that the Dervock Flute Band has given rise to fears about their conduct and has exacerbated already heightened tensions about the annual band parade.”
North Antrim Sinn Fein MLA Daithi McKay welcomed the move saying: “The first part of the presentation that the local Residents Association and myself put to the Parades Commission last week was that Dervock Young Defenders band should not be allowed to partake given their behaviour at the 12th July parade in Ballycastle and the previous behaviour of individuals at parades in Rasharkin.
“I am glad to see the Commission has taken this argument into consideration when making their determination on the parade this year.”
Meanwhile Ballymoney Ulster Unionist councillor Darryl Wilson said: “Yet another ludicrous decision by the Parades Commission to not permit Dervock Young Defenders to take part in Ballymaconnelly’s parade on Friday night. Their reasons and rationale are extremely weak, once again the PC pander to the intolerant Republican agenda.”