01 June 2006

Loyalist band to march close to attack site

Daily Ireland

By Connla Young

A loyalist band parade has been given the go-ahead to pass near where a teenager was kicked to death last month.

MichaelNationalist opponents of the parade had urged loyalist bandsmen in Ballymena, Co Antrim, to shelve plans to march past the spot where a gang attacked Michael McIlveen on May 7.
The Parades Commission is known to have been reluctant to place restrictions on the parade. It postponed making a final decision until yesterday.
The Pride of the Maine Flute Band, the parade organiser, will now hold a parade involving 45 bands and 1,500 supporters this Saturday.
The parade has been given permission to pass Ballymena’s All Saints Catholic church and Broughshane Street, which is near where the Catholic teenager was beaten.
It is believed parade representatives have given several assurances to the Parades Commission.
Bandsmen have said they will hold a moment’s silence “for all young people who have been killed or have suffered as a result of violence in the Ballymena area”.
They have pledged to play “respectful tunes” in the area of the chapel and leave predominantly nationalist north Ballymena before 10.30pm.
Sinn Féin North Antrim assembly member Philip McGuigan accused the commission of “copping out”.
“I recognise and welcome steps by parade organisers with regard to this parade but the short and simple fact is that this parade is viewed by people in the north end of Ballymena as sectarian and triumphalist.
“Without engagement, the Parades Commission has shown that it hasn’t got the moral courage to reroute,” he said.
SDLP Ballymena councillor Declan O’Loan said: “We note the undertaking by the parade organisers and the expectation of the Parades Commission that Saturday evening’s parade will be respectful and dignified.
“Dignity and respect will contribute to building confidence and trust throughout the communities in Ballymena. Of primary importance is the peace and tranquillity of local residents.
“Those who would protest also have a clear obligation to show respect and dignity and to operate within the law.”
Commission chairman Roger Poole said: “All those involved are keenly aware of the sensitivities in Ballymena at this time, and the commission is pleased that the parade organiser has undertaken to ensure that this parade will take place in a respectful and dignified way.
“The commission also welcomes the organiser’s plan to observe a moment’s silence during the course of the parade in respect for all young people who have been killed or have suffered as a result of violence in the Ballymena area.
“The commission will not be issuing a determination in this case and anticipates that the conduct of Saturday’s parade will contribute to a lowering of tensions in the town.”

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