Loyal orders’ show of unity against Parades Commission in Ballymoney

A loyalist band parade through Rasharkin, north Antrim last month. Picture: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
A loyalist band parade through Rasharkin, north Antrim last month. Picture: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

More than 60 loyal order lodges will parade in unity through Ballymoney on Saturday (Sept 24) night in a mass protest calling for the scrapping of the Parades Commission.

More than 40 bands have also confirmed their attendance at the Protestants Against Injustice Committee (PAIC) event but, unlike traditional parades, the various loyal orders will walk as one body not separated by the bands.

The recently formed PAIC group is a coalition of north Antrim band members, Orange Order, Royal Black Preceptory, Independent Orange Order, Apprentice Boys of Derry and Independent Woman’s Orange Order.

A spokesman said last week that it had “no political agenda” and its main aim was to have the Parades Commission disbanded.

“The Northern Ireland Executive refuses to recognise and deal with the consequences caused by Parades Commission decisions, instead opting for a ‘head in the sand’ approach while ignoring the injustices served out to the PUL (Protestant/unionist/loyalist) community on a regular basis,” he said.

Another statement issued by PAIC stated: “Our goal through peaceful protest is to send out a very clear message to our NI executive – we will not be ignored any longer. We want the unionist politicians within our government to bring about positive change.”

The organisers are appealing to those supporting the protest to make it as colourful as possible by bringing flags and bunting.

A short prayer service will take place before the parade gets under way at 6.30pm.

When details of the parade were originally announced, PAIC member Cllr Darryl Wilson said the parade “is designed to register our frustration, anger and opposition to the undemocratic Parades Commission”.

Orange Order chaplain Mervyn Gibson told the News Letter: “Any legal protest against the Parades Commission – about banning it – would have my full support.”

The parade is due to leave North Road, Ballymoney at 6.30pm sharp.