Anger as Parades Commission blocks part of Derg parade
Thursday, 2 July 2015
AN emergency meeting is to take place this morning (Wednesday) with the Parades Commission after it blocked a loyalist band from parading through what has been described as “a well-known Protestant area in Castlederg”.
Castlederg Young Loyalists Flute Band had applied to parade on July 11 night through the town from McCay Court taking in Main Street, John Street, High Street, Lurganboy Road to the junction of Breezemount Park and turn (Edwards PS entrance), Lurganboy Road, Hospital Road, Young Crescent, Upper Strabane Road, William Street, Diamond, back through Main Street before dispersing at McCay Court.
However, a ruling issued this week by the Commission has banned the parade from marching along the Lurganboy Road, which Unionist representatives says has been “tradition” in the past.
Derg-based Ulster Unionist councillor, Derek Hussey, has blasted the decision and says he has been granted a meeting this morning with Commission representatives to challenge the determination in respect of the parade, which has been the subject of a High Court challenge in the past.
Meanwhile, West Tyrone DUP MLA., Tom Buchanan, also “unreservedly” condemned the decision and accused the parading body of going out of their way to “penalise the law-abiding citizens of Castlederg”.
‘Blind eye’ He said: “This is at the same time where they reward nationalists who have held unlawful protests of which the Parades Commission were never notified. In these instances the Parades Commission appear to turn a blind eye,” he said in a statement.
The Drumquin man also levied blame at the feet of the Orange Order and Ulster Unionist Party, who, he claims, have been involved in behind-closed doors discussions with Sinn Féin and the Parades Commission regarding parading in the town.
“What concerns me most about this decision is that senior members of the Ulster Unionist Party, alongside members of the Orange Order, have been holding numerous meetings with the Sinn Fein MP Pat Doherty and other Sinn Fein elected representatives with the Parades Commission regarding the parading situation in Castlederg.
“I have no doubt that as a result this parading route which has been the long-standing traditional route has been sacrificed to appease republicans. This is outrageous,” he said.
Mr Buchanan said the decision to block the parade along the Lurganboy Road had come at a time when members of the Unionist community had “tolerated” the recent Tyrone Fleadh celebrations in the town, wherein he claimed participants had paraded past three protestant churches and delayed other members of congregations from getting to their place of worship.
“It is completely unacceptable that the protestant community, who constantly abide by the rules and respect the rule of law, are continually targeted by the likes of the Parades Commission aided and abetted by those who should know better.
Every last bit of our protestant culture is being eroded by the Parades Commission and it is not helped by other unionist politicians, who are happy to sacrifice our culture in their efforts to appease republicans.”
‘Absolute disgust’ Speaking yesterday (Tuesday) Mr Hussey, a member of the Castlederg Young Loyalists Old Boys band, who will also be parading on the night, expressed his “absolute disgust” at the ruling.
He revealed that he would be meeting this morning with the Parades Commission over the decision not to allow the annual parade along a “well-known Protestant area” of the town.
He also claimed that the successful challenge to a previous prohibition had bred “resentment” within the parading body. “This particular part of the route had in the past been prohibited by the Parades Commission but they had to withdraw the prohibition in the face of a High Court challenge to their determination which was successful.
There would now appear – within the Parades Commission – to be some resentment in regard to this previous defeat. “I have already been in contact with the Parades Commission and will be meeting them at 10am on Wednesday morning to challenge their totally illogical determination,” Mr Hussey said.
Turning to Mr Buchanan’s comments on the talks, he said that he had not been aware of any such discussions having taken place on this parade.
“In regard to claims of negotiations in regard to this particular parade with any other elected representatives, I am certainly not aware of these having taken place,” he remarked.
Mr Hussey said that he is willing to meet with any residents who live on the route, namely Lower Lurganboy Road/Breezemount, adding: “But I do not believe that any would be expressing a concern in regard to this pre-Twelfth procession.”
Sinn Féin were also contacted for a response on the matter, but a spokesperson told this newspaper that it did not wish to do so.
This article first appeared in the Tyrone Consttitution Newspaper