‘Don’t restrict parade’: Finlay

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The DUP’s John Finlay has written to the Parades Commission demanding that a band parade in Rasharkin later this month does not have restrictions placed upon it.

The Ballymaconnelly Sons of Ulster Flute Band are planning to hold a parade in Rasharkin on August 22 and Cllr Finlay has called on the Commission to ensure that the parade “not be subject to the sort of disgraceful restrictions placed upon it in 2012.”

Cllr Finlay said he contacted the Commission last year about the same parade: “Sadly, my pleas fell on deaf ears, and draconian restrictions were imposed in an effort to placate militant republicans who have a track record of opposition to all loyal order and band parades in Rasharkin.

“This year, we have a new Commission and I make a fresh appeal to it to defend the rights of the Ballymaconnelly band and its guests to hold its annual parade without undue restriction.

“The band is highly respected and its parade is one of the highlights of the Ulster bands calendar and eagerly anticipated by many people.

“In previous years, the Commission required that the size of the parade be drastically reduced. This must not happen again this year. Also, the duration of the evening must not be curtailed as it has been in previous years.

“I urge the Commission to learn from the mistakes of its predecessor. If we are to move forward on the parading issue, a fresh approach must be taken in relation to parades such as this. The time has come to protect the rights of peaceful assembly and procession, and also to stand up to threats from those who do not wish to see a Protestant parade of any sort on the streets of Rasharkin.”