Hate on tour in Rasharkin
Hate on tour in Rasharkin

A young woman was struck on the head during a loyalist band “parade” which was nothing more than a frightening display of anti-Catholic hatred.

Around 100 nationalist held a protest against the parade in Rasharkin on Friday night.

Supporters of the loyalist bands deliberately assembled across the road from the protest and launched a barrage of verbal sectarian comments and hand-gestures towards the protestors.

One band member broke from the parade in full view of the police and attacked a nineteen year old local resident with a flute. The imprint of the flute was left on her head and she required staples to a serious head wound.

A total of 27 bands marched through the overwhelmingly nationalist village. Many bands had paramilitary flags that had been slightly altered to get around a new ban on such items.

North Antrim Sinn Féin Assembly member Philip McGuigan said the parade was the “worst display of sectarianism I have ever seen”.

“ The Parades Commission and the PSNI need to realise that nationalist people in North Antrim are not second class citizens and will not be treated as such.

“The days of loyalist bands and police forces walking over our rights and entitlements are long gone. The people made that very clear in the Assembly elections last year.

“The assault of a young woman by a bandsman from the Moneydig band is just the latest incident in a catalogue of complaints that we have had about this parade since it began.

“These bands have failed to show any respect towards the people of Rasharkin.

“Twenty-seven loyalist bands in a 95% Nationalist village? The maths doesn’t work, its time this parade was stopped.”

* A march by the Protestant Royal Black Preceptory (RBP) parade has been banned from marching past the nationalist Ardoyne shops in north Belfast next Saturday morning.

The Parades Commission has ruled that such a parade would have an adverse effect on fragile community relations and could create the potential for public disorder.

* The Parades Commission has also been urged to uphold their weekend decision to re-route a Royal Black Perceptory parade in Maghera on Saturday away from the nationalist ‘Top of the Town’ area.

In July, the Parades Commission came under pressure from the police to overturn their decision to re-route a controversial Protestant band parade in the town.

Residents of the predominately nationalist town have taken an initiative aimed at resolving the contentious parade, despite anger at a number of contentious parades already this summer. The plan includes the offer of an alternative route and the commencement of immediate dialogue with the parade organisers.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News