30 June 2005

Fears over loyalist parade

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes

Loyalists in a quiet Co Antrim village are planning to march around a religiously mixed cul-de-sac despite opposition from local Catholics and Protestants.
The Pride of the Village Flute Band have filed an application with the Parades Commission to march around Stoneyford on July 11.
The route they plan to take will see them parade around a new housing development that was the scene of sectarian violence last year.
Nationalists who publicly opposed a loyalist parade around the Beeches Manor cul-de-sac last summer were forced to flee the area after receiving death threats. There are fears that these threats could be repeated after next month’s march.
The late-night parade will culminate with around 60 loyalists and one band walking to a bonfire in the village and then setting fire to the bonfire.
There were reports last year of men taking part in the march wearing T-shirts bearing the emblem of the Orange Volunteers, a small loyalist paramilitary outfit.
Local Sinn Féin councillor Paul Butler described the new Stoneyford parade plans as “ridiculous”.
He said: “No one in the Beeches Manor area wants this parade passing by their homes.
“This is a quiet and religiously mixed area. After last year’s trouble, residents just want to live in peace.
“They don’t want loyalist band parades stoking up sectarian tension.”
Ed Nolan was one of the Stoneyford Catholics forced to flee the village after loyalist threats last summer.
He said his home had been attacked eight times in three months before he moved back to Belfast.
He said: “When we moved in, there was a brand new lamppost at the end of the street which was painted red, white and blue.
“The next day, someone repainted it white but, the day after that, it was painted red, white and blue again. It was afterwards that all the trouble started.”
Mr Nolan said that, as well as smashing the windows of his home, loyalists loosened the wheel bolts on his car.
“Perhaps the most sinister thing was that a car came in cruising around the area one night before sitting across the street from my house.
“When I went out into the darkened hall, I heard them shouting something about ‘fenians’ before speeding off.”
The Parades Commission will rule before the end of the week on whether the Stoneyford march can go ahead as planned.
Several other controversial parades are planned for the village during the summer.
In 1999, Stoneyford featured heavily in the news when intelligence documents on 300 nationalists were found in the local Orange Hall.
Republicans claimed that the documents were being used by the Orange Volunteers and had been leaked to the group by the RUC.

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