Unionists have welcomed a Parades Commission decision to stand by its approval of a loyalist parade in Armagh on St Patrick’s Day.
Previously the commission had approved the application but the SDLP and Sinn Fein, who had strongly opposed the parade, appealed the decision. However the commission last night said that after reviewing all the information, they stood by their original decision and the parade could go ahead.
Cormeen Rising Sons of William is due to host the parade in Armagh this Saturday. The Killylea-based group has invited up to 40 bands to participate in the event, which will be held in the city after Armagh’s annual St Patrick’s celebrations.
The band previously held the yearly parade in its home village, but organisers asked to move it to the larger venue due to the increasing numbers of participants.
The commission granted permission for the parade on condition that it begins no earlier than 7.30pm and disperses no later than 10.30pm.
In a statement previously, a Cormeen spokesman said the parade offered an opportunity for members of the unionist community to express their own association with the patron saint.
In last night’s determination the com-mission said it has considered all the representations submitted to it but, “set against the guidelines against which it must base its decisions”, it considered that “the oral and written representations it has received do not on balance warrant the imposition of further conditions on the parade”.
UUP MLA Danny Kennedy “very much welcomed the decision” to let the parade go ahead as planned on Saturday.
“I am confident that the organisers will ensure a lawful and orderly event and I trust that the entire community will allow the occasion to take place in the true spirit of St Patrick,” he said.
“St Patrick is not the sole property of a single community and I am confident that the entire community will be able to enjoy the many events taking place in Armagh on Saturday to commemorate St Patrick.”
But Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy said that “despite the clear evidence that the community and businesses in Armagh do not want this march to go ahead, the Parades Commission has ignored any concerns and pushed ahead with their original disastrous decision”.
He added: “I have heard already of groups pulling out of the St Patrick’s parade earlier in the day due to this march being allowed. The organisers of this contentious march have to date provided four different reasons for this parade and none of them stack up.
“This should have been a no-brainer for the Parades Commission but they somehow failed the test and the PSNI’s crazy assertion that there was no local concern over the march defies belief.”