Ballymoney parade ‘has no political agenda’

PAIC members (back row from left) Gary Blair, William Archibald, Russell Watton, Anne Smyth, James Anderson. Front row: Matthew Hagan, Darryl Wilson, Raymond Christie

PAIC members (back row from left) Gary Blair, William Archibald, Russell Watton, Anne Smyth, James Anderson. Front row: Matthew Hagan, Darryl Wilson, Raymond Christie

A loyalist grouping behind a mass parade in Ballymoney this weekend has said it has “no political agenda” and that its only aim is to have the Parades Commission disbanded.

The Protestants Against Injustice Committee (PAIC) accused the Executive of adopting a “head in the sand” approach by “ignoring the injustices” PAIC claims the commission inflicts on the Protestant/unionist community.

Thousands of loyal order members and bands are expected in Ballymoney on Saturday evening for the event.

PAIC 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 PAIC spokesman said: “The committee have no political agenda, only a desire to unite unionism in a bid to see the parades commission be disbanded.

“Our aim is to call upon the Northern Ireland secretary of State to dissolve the Parades Commission.

“We ask that the secretary of state provides leadership where the Northern Ireland Government can’t, namely our joint first ministers, justice minister and Executive, on dealing with the Parades Commission.”

The spokesman added: “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.

“There is an overwhelming desire in Northern Ireland to move forward in a positive way, to do so we must see a commonsense and acceptable approach to governing parading.”

When details of the parade were announced, Orange Order chaplain and assistant grand master Mervyn Gibson told the News Letter: “Any legal protest against the Parades Commission – about banning it – would have my full support.”

Organisers say the parade will leave North Road, Ballymoney on Saturday at 6.30pm sharp to allow bands travelling to the North Ballymena Protestant Boys parade to leave Ballymoney in good time to make the journey.