A DUP delegation has met with police chiefs ahead of the marching season to voice concerns over parades and protests in the north Antrim area.

The areas MP Ian Paisley Jnr and MLA Mervyn Storey met with deputy chief constable Alistair Finlay and ACC Judith Gillespie to discuss what the delegation described as the �disgraceful behaviour� of republican protestors at past parades.

Highlig
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hting Rasharkin as an area where republicans have previously �engineered a campaign of synthetic opposition to parades�, Mr Paisley said: �It is important that peaceful parades are protected from violence or illegal protests.

�These parades have taken place unmolested for decades within the local community and caused no harm or offence to any person.

�Indeed, in the not-too-distant past they were enjoyed by everyone regardless of their background or beliefs.�

The North Antrim MP said he wanted to see a return to those days of �mutual respect and tolerance,� and added: �That includes for those who want to practice their faith and exercise their democratic right to parade.�

Speaking after the meeting Mr Storey said: �Republican protestors have a track record of attacking peaceful parades and attempting to intimidate bandsmen and parade participants.

�Sectarian abuse has been hurled in an attempt to provoke a reaction.
�It is important that the police take every measure to ensure that such disgraceful behaviour is not tolerated nor permitted on the public highway.�

Mr Storey added: �At our meeting we took the opportunity to share with the police our concerns and press them to take a robust approach on these issues. Participants and bandsmen taking part in lawful procession must be protected.�

Rasharkin has been at the centre of bitter rows over parading for many years and there are no signs yet that the 2010 marching season will bring a dramatic improvement in community relations.

Published date on the 16th of June 2010
Article taken from the The News Letter


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