Unionists have heaped praise on a flute band after it led a peaceful parade in the face of “provocative” restrictions by the Parades Commission.
There had been widespread unionist concern after the commission imposed a single drum beat ruling on Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band as it passed nationalist protestors in Rasharkin on Friday evening.
TUV leader Jim Allister had slammed the commission, saying it was the first time it had imposed such a restriction when passing anything except a place of worship.
North Antrim DUP MP Ian Paisley said: “Ballymaconnelly band have proven themselves time and time again to be determined to express their cultural rights in a peaceful and lawful way, despite continued opposition from republicans in the village aided by the Parades Commission.
“Last night [Friday] again the band are to be congratulated for organising another extremely well run parade.
“This parade saw the Parades Commission once again attempt to extend their own anti-parade agenda with a ruling never witnessed before.
“The ruling that a single drum beat could only be played whilst passing protestors was the latest example of this unaccountable quango pandering to the demands of any republican who decides to be offended.”
UUP councillor Darryl Wilson and party colleague Robin Swann MLA also praised the band for its peaceful conduct.
“With the Parades Commission bowing to republican pressure, a new provocative imposition was placed on the parade, whereby bands could only play a single drumbeat while passing protestors, coupled with the previous restriction of a limit of 25 bands,” they said.