BALLYMACONNELLY Sons of Conquerors Band have passed on their regret to Catholic and Protestant residents who were not opposed to their parade in Rasharkin, about the march continuing into the early hours of Saturday.

In a statement to the Ballymoney Times, the band said the situation was not of their making.
The statement said: May we also add, a regret to the non-opposing residents of Rasharkin , both Catholic, and Protestant, for the parade to run into this late hour, however this was subject to circumstances outside our control, with the blame squarely on those who planted the hoax device, and had no regard for the families evacuated from their homes.
The band said: This has been a very tempestuous week for Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors. With an original determination by the so-called independent body the Parades Commission, which with no logic or reason, other than rewarding violence and punishing those who keep the law, left the committee with having to make quick decisions to secure their 30th anniversary and competition parade.
After many, many meetings with state, band and our elected representatives, we secured an alternative route which as before seen the parade starting and finishing in the village.This, we wish to make clear was our only option, the original determination had left us with a huge problem of ensuring the invited bands safety, and dealing with the tension that already had been hyped up by those opposed to us.
The band have never wanted to get involved in politics, and we, and the greater public, are aware the people opposed to us are only using the parade to further their political agenda, with no respect to our Protestant marching band traditions, our culture, and our community.
Is this the shared society we have been promised? These people want to drive us back into the dark days of Northern Irelands history by bombs, violence and intimidation creating more division, and segregation in our community.
This was the case on Friday 20th August, with a hoax bomb scare disrupting the parade with the object of creating tension and the hope this would plunge our community into violence.
The band therefore took the decision, with the support of the police on the ground, into simply reversing the parade route,taking bands away from the flashpoint of the hoax, and doing our best to ensure the parade got started, and finished without any more disruption.
May we also add, a regret to the non opposing residents of Rasharkin , both Catholic, and Protestant, for the parade to run into this late hour, however this was subject to circumstances outside our control, with the blame squarely on those who planted the hoax device, and had no regard for the families evacuated from their homes.
We also thank those who attended and supported us, especially to the invited bands that once again had to endure a torrent of sectarian abuse from the protest, but yet were disciplined and behaved, said the band statement.

Published date on the 25th of August 2010
Article taken from the Ballymoney & Moyle Times

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