A controversial band parade in Rasharkin is thought to have passed off peacefully tonight, however the behaviour of protesting nationalists has been described as “shameful”.
The parade organised by Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors has been at the centre of a long-running dispute with a host of restrictions being place on the parade.
Two nationalist residents’ groups – Rasharkin Residents’ Collective and Rasharkin Residents’ Association – had been given permission to hold protests on the village’s Main Street.
Following the parade which is reported to have passed off peacefully North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey said: “Despite yet another shameful determination by the parades commission and the sectarian and contrived opposition to the parade by unrepresentative republicans this years parade has been held.”
He continued: “The parade went well apart from one aspect. Republicans need to take a very long, hard look at themselves at their language and their behaviour. There was disgusting verbal abuse being fired at bands.
“For republicans who talk so much about respect and integrity the display that we saw from them this evening was nothing short of shameful.”
He added: “As far as the residents are concerned there was more imported residents than there was actual people from the village.
“It is way past the time for this orchestrated opposition to come to and end and allow Ballymaconnelly band and Rasharkin village to be freed from this annual display by the protestors of intolerance.
“As always Ballymaconnelly band are a credit to themselves. I commend them yet again for organising this year’s parade and for their dignified and disciplined way in which they marshal the parade.”
He added: “Regrettably the Parades Commission seem more interested in placating republicans whose only agenda is to demonise the band and subject the village of Rasharkin to negative publicity.”