Loyalist band barred from parade after allegations of ‘provocative conduct’

Dervock Young Defenders
Dervock Young Defenders

The Dervock Young Defenders loyalist band has been barred from an upcoming parade in a Co Antrim town this Friday.

The Parades Commission made the determination denying the group any right to participate in the march through the Catholic-dominated town of Rasharkin this Friday.

On July 12, a republican councillor, Padraig McShane, was arrested at a parade where Dervock Young Defenders had been playing in Ballycastle.

He had allegedly been involved in a verbal exchange with members of the flute band.

He was released without charge on police bail. He told the News Letter at the time he would be referring the matter to the Police Ombudsman.

Later that month, a bus belonging to the band had been set on fire and destroyed.

The Parades Commission’s determination said that the band’s conduct on that day had brought a “new dynamic” to its consideration of the planned Rasharkin parade.

It said that it had “received information and evidence about the band’s perceived provocative conduct that day, including wearing face masks, drunkenness, and rowdy and antagonistic behaviour”.

It added: “Other complaints were that a protestor’s conduct had been threatening and provocative.”

It ruled that the band must not take part in the upcoming annual parade.

Other restrictions include a single drumbeat to be played throughout part of the route, that it starts at 7pm sharp, and that it disperses by 9pm, latest.

There is also a total ban on any paramilitary emblems.

Jim Allister, MLA for North Antrim, said: “I am appalled that the Parades Commission have banned Dervock Young Defenders Flute Band from taking part in the annual parade in Rasharkin this Friday night.

“Parade organisers had gone to considerable lengths including reducing the number of bands taking part and brining forward the time at which the parade would end.”

He added: “It is important to remember that it was a republican councillor, Padraig McShane, who was arrested as a result of his behavior while the band passed on the Twelfth, not members of the band...

“This is a gratuitously provocative action by a commission which seems determined to stir up controversy in an area were the tensions around a parade had decreased in recent years.”