Alliance Councillor Eóin Tennyson has said there are serious questions to answer after the Ulster Unionist Leader attended a rally after an illegal parade which appears to have breached Covid regulations.
The Portadown parade – which both Doug Beattie MLA and Carla Lockhart MP have so far failed to condemn – was led by masked men and accompanied by widespread paramilitary displays despite failing to have secured Parades Commission authorisation.
He said: “Everyone has the right to protest, but processions must be conducted in a peaceful and lawful manner.
“That this procession was unnotified is a clear breach of parades legislation. The sight of masked men carrying UVF paraphernalia through Portadown was disgraceful and depressing in equal measure.
“We are still dealing with a pandemic, with a requirement for large scale events to be risk assessed and limited to 500 attendees. This was clearly not the case on Saturday and I would ask Health Minister Robin Swann to remind his party colleague what the current restrictions are.
“In light of these considerations, Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie must explain his actions yesterday – from what he knows to have occurred, does he now recognise it as an unnotified parade and will he condemn the sinister elements at play? Or will he simply try to ride two horses, claiming to have been close enough to read the mood, yet unaware it was illegal. And that’s before he explains if he has any concerns around the significant breach of covid regulations.
“As a member of the Justice Committee, he surely knows marches of this kind are illegal.
“Meanwhile, the lack of any condemnation of this haunting display from our local MP Carla Lockhart simply beggars belief. It is time for both politicians to show leadership join me in condemning what took place on Saturday.”