Parade decision 'must be reversed'

THE decision to allow a contentious parade in north Belfast this weekend "will play straight into the hands of republican dissidents", it has been claimed.

The Parades Commission is to allow an Apprentice Boys parade on Saturday, which will pass the Crumlin Road interface at Ardoyne, the scene of violent clashes in the past.

The decision has been criticised as "defying logic and common sense" after it emerged the Shankill Star Flute Band, which commemorates UVF killer Brian Robinson, will march near the spot where he shot a Catholic man in 1989.

Robinson killed Ardoyne man Patrick McKenna on the Crumlin Road before being shot and killed himself by undercover soldiers.

On its website, the flute band states its tagline as "For God and Ulster. In memory of Brian Robinson".

Slamming the Parades Commission's decision, SDLP MLA for North Belfast Alban Maginness told the News Letter: "We have enough on our plate without this disastrous addition to an Apprentice Boys parade.

"The Shankill Star band commemorates a UVF murderer and the evidence is right there on their logo on the side of their drum."

He added: "In its determination, the Parades Commission says there should be no display of symbols relating to a proscribed organisation or paramilitary member. How do they square this with the Shankill Star drums?

"There are other bands that the Ballysillan Apprentice Boys could have included and it is beyond belief that the commission bought the argument that the Shankill Star band was chosen for its 'musicality'".

Mr Maginness said allowing Saturday's parade would have been a "bad decision" at any time but added: "Right now, with political stalemate and the threat of meltdown, with attempts at mob rule in Portadown, it will play straight into the hands of republican dissidents waiting eagerly in the wings."

The MLA said his party would seek an urgent review of the Parades Commission's "foolish decision".

In its determinations on the Apprentice Boys parade, the commission said it "recognised the tensions" surrounding the event, but accepted the purpose of the march was "to give public expression to culture and history".

The commission has placed conditions on the parade, stating there must be no music other than a single drum beat as the band passes the interface, parade supporters should not exceed 15 persons and there must be no paramilitary displays.