Restrictions placed on Dungiven republican parade

Pictures of hunger strikers are carried at the head of a previous Kevin Lynch memorial parade in Dungiven
Pictures of hunger strikers are carried at the head of a previous Kevin Lynch memorial parade in Dungiven

The Parades Commission has, once again, been accused of “making a terrible blunder” in relation to an annual band parade.

However, rather than the expected Loyal Order sources, this time it is the organisers of a republican event in Co Londonderry complaining.

The annual parade commemorating INLA hunger striker Kevin Lynch is due to take place in Dungiven on Sunday.

The 25-year-old died in the Maze prison on August 1, 1981.

Sinn Fein MLA Cathal OhOisin has accused the commission of making “a mountain out of a molehill” by imposing conditions on the parade for the first time.

One of the conditions imposed is that paramilitary-style clothing must not be worn at any time during the parade, and that flags, bannerettes and symbols relating to a proscribed organisation must not be displayed – including on musical instruments.

Those taking part will also be required to refrain from using words or behaviour which could be reasonably perceived to be intentionally sectarian, threatening or abusive.

Mr OhOisin said he was disappointed because there had been “good sense” shown in recent times and good community relations.

Last month the Dungiven Concerned Residents Association (CRA) called off a protest against a 10-minute long church parade – in silence – through the village by the Dungiven Faith & Crown Defenders Orange lodge.

However, the Sinn Fein MLA has ominously linked the Parades Commission’s determination on the Kevin Lynch memorial to future Orange parades in Dungiven.

Mr OhOisin said he was now questioning what impact the ruling may have.

“This will not be helpful,” he told the Derry Journal.

A spokesperson for Dungiven CRA also said he “would be fearful of the ramifications of the determination on future parades in the town”.

He said: “The Parades Commission has made a terrible blunder and they are pandering to people from outside this community.

“In a single stroke, they have undone all the good work that has been achieved in recent months, and any chance of reaching agreement in future marches and protests will now be extremely doubtful.”

More than 400 people along with 10 bands are expected to take part in Sunday’s parade to the Kevin Lynch memorial on Dungiven’s Main Street.

The Kevin Lynch Memorial Flute Band will also hold a parade in Dungiven on Friday night, however, the Parades Commission has not imposed any conditions.

Gregory Campbell has said the restrictions imposed are no different from those in place for Orange Order and Apprentice Boys parades.

The DUP MP for East Londonderry said Sinn Fein were “quite content” for those to be in place until now.

“But the most ominous thing is the attempt to link a 10-minute (Orange Order) walk, were there are no musical instruments, no bands, no banners, no flags, nothing other than Orangemen walking silently to church at 9am on a Sunday morning when nobody is around in Dungiven.”