Alliance Ballymena representative, Jayne Dunlop, has called the organisers of a republican parade ‘hypocrites’ over their objections to the restrictions placed on their proposed parade in Ballymena, to commemorate the introduction of internment in 1971.
Jayne Dunlop said:
“I had previously expressed my concern at the insensitivity shown by the organisers of the proposed parade to the wider community. While I am an advocate of free expression, assembly and protest, this must always be done peacefully and with responsibility.
“The proposed parade was obviously provocative, and itself may have contributed to the recent spate of sectarian violence in Ballymena and surrounding towns, with blast bombs and the paint bombings of several churches. While this is no excuse for the offences, the parade organisers should have better appreciated that a better way forward was to engage in dialogue with local representatives, including those in Ballymena Borough Council. After all, is this not what republicans and nationalists constantly argue for in the case of other contentious parades?
“Thus it is not surprising that the Parades Commission has placed limitations on the proposed parade.
“I find it hypocritical for the parade organisers to complain about their right of parading being curtailed. Just because Orange parades may pass Catholic churches, as the organisers complain, doesn’t make it right in itself. Additionally, the concern is one of preventing riotous behaviour, and it was on this ground that the Parades Commission made it ruling.
“At the end of the day, just because one has the right to assemble, parade and protest doesn’t mean that this can be done without regard to local neighbourhoods and the wider community. It is about facilitating parades in a considered manner.”