A last-minute attempt to get the Parades Commission to reconsider its decision not to place any restrictions on a planned IRA commemoration have been rejected.
There have been calls for the commission to rethink its unconditional go-ahead for the Dunloy parade on Sunday, which was granted despite reports over a number of years that the event had breached its code of conduct – and maybe the law as well.
The TUV’s Sharon McKillop this week wrote to the commission asking it to take a fresh look at its decision.
But the commission – which has the power to restrict marches, but not ban them outright – responded that all the relevant considerations had already been given and it has “therefore decided not to review its original decision, which remains in place”.
But it will keep an eye on how the parade unfolds, with one of the five-strong panel watching the event in person.
Councillor McKillop’s letter also hit out at the “inconsistent” decisions of the commission – echoing criticism from the Orange Order which this week said in a statement: “When parades that commemorate, and even celebrate, violence are allowed to take place unrestricted by the Parades Commission, it increases the perception amongst our members that they are acting in a one-sided manner.”
In its reply to Cllr McKillop, the commission said it “does not draw any distinction between parades on the grounds of their cultural tradition”.
It did, however, have to “take account of the particular circumstances” of each one, adding it had also considered advice from police in this case.
It said that it understands how certain parades can be “deeply offensive”, but that, as was the case with last summer’s Castlederg parade (to which the Dunloy march has been compared), it does not always mean they are unlawful.
Declan Martin and Henry Hogan (aged 18 and 20) died after a gun clash in February 1984 in which a soldier was also shot dead.
Sinn Fein had previously stated that the Sunday event “will be a dignified commemoration of two local republicans taking place in Dunloy, which is a predominantly nationalist town”.
It is described as lasting from 2pm to 5pm, involving eight bands, 500 participants and 300 spectators.