Condemnation of WWI ruling

TUV leader Jim Allister
TUV leader Jim Allister

Condemnation has been heaped on a decision to prevent all but one loyalist band from parading up to a war memorial during an upcoming commemoration.

The Parades Commission has decided only the Red Hand Defenders Flute Band will be allowed to proceed to the monument during Monday’s march in Downpatrick to mark the start of World War One,

It ruled that the other 46 bands, plus supporters, will not be allowed to follow.

The TUV’s Jim Allister said they would instead be forced to come to a halt on the edge of the town after marching a mere few hundred yards.

He said: “Even by the Parades Commission’s standards this takes oppression of Unionist culture to a ridiculous level”.

He added that, given the nature of the commemoration, the ruling was “particularly insulting”.

The Red Hand Defenders carry out the march annually, but this year modified it to include a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial.

UKIP’s David McNarry said: “It is disappointing at a time when the bands annual parade coincidentally falls on the centenary of the First World War that the parades commission is unable to recognise the wish of the organisers and visiting bands to commemorate this solemn event with dignity”.