Rasharkin parade increases tensions


Sinn Fein’s Daithi McKay has said there were a number of breaches of determinations by the Parades Commission at a loyalist parade in Rasharkin last [Friday] night.

Up to 25 bands took part in the controversial Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band parade, which twice marched provocatively through the predominately nationalist County Antrim town.

Mr McKay claimed there were a number of breaches of the law, including the presence of one band which was not notified to the police or Parades Commission.

He said: “Some of the men stopped outside the pub and played music, when the Parades Commission had asked for no undue stoppages. ‘The Sash’ was then played on Rasharkin Main Street, which was totally unacceptable.”

The North Antrim representative said there were also “loopholes” around flags and banners which needed to be examined.

He said: “There were bands which took part which were not allowed to carry UVF and UDA flags and that is to be welcomed. However one bannerette referred to “Quis Separabit” [the UDA slogan] and another referred to a UDA man killed in Coleraine a number of years ago.”

The Sinn Fein representative added: “We will be asking the Parades Commission to tighten the determination around this for next year.”

Rasharkin Residents’ Collective spokesman Sean Hanna said the parade should use an alternative route.

“It passes it twice and we feel it puts more restrictions on the people of Glebe Park which already experiences human rights violations,” he said.

Five members of the nationalist residents’ group have all received paramilitary death threats in recent years. One of them, the uncle of three Catholic brothers killed by the unionist paramilitary UVF, was recently told his life is under threat.

Frankie Quinn’s nephews, Richard (11), Mark (10) and Jason (9) Quinn, died after their home in the Protestant Carnaney estate in Ballymoney was petrol-bombed on July 12, 1998.

They are buried side-by-side in St Mary’s cemetery in their mother’s native Rasharkin, while several members of the family live in the village.

Mr Quinn said he has not changed his view that the loyalist parade should be banned from the nationalist village.

“They should not be parading down a nationalist area, simple as,” he said.


Elsewhere, there were reports of sectarian clashes in the Skegoneil area of north Belfast. Up to ten cars were said to have been damaged by youths armed with knives and sticks.

And loyalists paint-bombed Catholic-owned homes in nearby Ardoyne on Thursday night. It is believed paramilitaries were involved in launching the attack over the wall from the entrance of a nearby retirement home close to Holy Cross Church. One block of flats was struck up to four times after glass bottles filled with paint were thrown.

Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective spokesman Aidan Ferguson said nationalist residents should have the right to live free from sectarian harassment and intimidation.

“These attacks, directed by reactionary paramilitaries within the UVF, are further proof that this right is denied to us,” he said.

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