THE secretary of Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band has said its members are devastated at a parades commission ruling to drastically cut its parade route.

Yesterday the parades commission issued a determination to restrict the annual event, set to take place next Friday, to just one street and scrap the return parade.

And after a two-hour meeting last night attended by DUP MLA Mervyn Storey a statement from the band said they were keeping their options open.

Band secretary Jonathan Wallace said after the meeting: �The commissions decision has presented us with profound logistical and public order problems.

�Weve always had the best of relationships with the PSNI and with the commission and tried to do the right thing, but this has left us in an impossible position. We are keeping our options open, pending further consideration.�

At the parade last year, participants came under attack with bottles, golf balls and other missiles from protestors, amid heavy security.

A total of 130 protestors had originally been allowed but their numbers swelled to 300 more than the number of bandsmen on parade.

Eight protestors were arrested in the disturbance, which included a petrol bomb being thrown, while one supporter of the loyal orders was arrested.

Mr Wallace told the News Letter yesterday that the band were shocked and devastated at the decision.

�We see it as a moral issue, we always do the right thing, people in the past have even said if every band was like Ballymaconnelly, there wouldnt be any trouble,� he said.

�It seems as if we are being punished for doing the right thing while violence and law breaking is being rewarded.

�This is the first time in 30 years this contest has been restricted. It seems to be that violence wins the day.�

TUV leader Jim Allister slammed the decision of the parades commission as a �calculated kick in the teeth for all those organisers who ensured this was always a disciplined, dignified and peaceful parade and a shameful reward for the Sinn Fein orchestrated mob who last year used violence and missiles to attack the parade�.

Meanwhile, SDLP MLA for North Antrim, Declan OLoan, said he �strongly welcomed� the parades commission decision.

�This decision shows that the parades commission is the right model for regulating parades and it should be retained and strengthened,� he said.

Published date on the 14th of August 2010
Article taken from the News Letter