Parade Row Erupts
Tuesday, 26 August 2014
TENSIONS are running high over a flute band parade which is due to take place in the city centre this weekend.
A South Down Defenders flute band parade is taking place on Friday but Sinn Fein MLA Mickey Brady has called upon organisers to "begin meaningful talks with residents living along the route" - but UUP councillor David Taylor has accused Sinn Fein of deliberately raising tensions.
Mr Brady has already met with the Parades Commission to raise concerns about the parade on August 29.
“Band parades like this have always been hugely contentious in Newry, closing down two main roads in the city causing maximum inconvenience, traffic chaos and delays.
“Several bands fly UVF bannerettes and flags which is clearly designed to insult nationalist residents in the area. This is also a direct violation of previous determinations made by the Parades Commission."
The MLA also outlined that he had spoken to business people who have concerns that trade will be badly affected due to the road closures and customers avoiding the area.
“Local people are frustrated about how their genuine concerns are being dismissed by the parade organisers and unionist politicians," he said.
“This is not about denying people's right to march. Those who wish to celebrate their culture should be free to do so, but this right must be exercised with full respect for the rights of others, and in particular, the rights of host communities.
“The people of this area are entitled to have their voices heard and the organisers should begin a genuine process of negotiation with the residents.
“The refusal of the parade organisers to talk to residents in Newry points up once again the need for a comprehensive solution to the issues of parades, flags and the past as set out in the Haass proposals," he continued.
Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist councillor, David Taylor has expressed his anger and disappointment at what he views as attempts by Sinn Fein representatives to create tensions ahead of the annual parade of the South Down Defenders Flute Band. He said: "South Down Defenders Flute Band have a transparent and proven record of organising an extremely efficient and respectable event which has involved the parade organisers consistently endeavouring to ensure that any disruption to the local community is kept to a minimum."
He stated that Sinn Fein's claim that the parade would cause severe disruption was "absurd and unwarranted."
“Sinn Fein's concerns about possible disruption serve only as a smokescreen for their real reason for objecting to the parade which is based on narrow minded bigotry and sectarianism from a party which always falls short on ever displaying genuine equality and tolerance to the minority Protestant community in Newry," he said.
“The Unionist community in Newry are exhausted listening to claims from Sinn Fein that they are a Party which believes in equality for all, only to find them regularly falling short in displaying such magnanimity to their Protestant neighbours when it comes to their rightful entitlement to display their expression of culture," he added.
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