A band parade will be held in Ballymoney next month to protest against “undemocratic” Parades Commission rulings.
Organised by the Protestants Against Injustice Committee (PAIC), the demonstration is scheduled for Saturday, September 24.
Describing the action as unprecedented, the organisers have issued a letter of invitation to bands, lodges, clubs and preceptories to participate.
Causeway Coast and Glens Councillor Darryl Wilson, one of the signatories to the letter, explained: “The parade is designed to register our frustration, anger and opposition to the undemocratic Parades Commission and the general infringement of civil and human rights being experienced by the Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist community.”
Alleging the Parades Commission is used as a “mechanism for creating institutionalised discrimination against the PUL community”, PAIC went on to point out that parades have been re-routed, banned and interfered with “at the whim of Sinn Fein politicians”.
“They are an unelected body who have been given seemingly unlimited powers to do as they please without reference, or accountability to anyone and their chief - and almost exclusive target - is the PUL community,” the statement continued.
“Bands, Orange lodges, Apprentice Boys clubs and Royal Black Preceptory have suffered at the hands of the commission. This has had a demoralising effect on the wider Unionist population and had led to an acceptance on the part of many that those members of the bands and the Loyal Orange Orders are second class citizens.
“The parade is designed to show the Parades Commission and the Republicans who manipulate and use the commission for their own narrow, sectarian ends that we as a united community are not prepared to simply accept this.
“Never before has a parade/rally been held to oppose the Parades Commission and demand both our civil and human rights be protected. We would like this to be the first of many across the country.”
Highlighting the Parades Commission’s recent ruling that Dervock Young Defenders Flute Band would not be allowed to participate in a parade in Rasharkin hosted by Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band, the PAIC went on to state “this is the start of something very sinister and new within this area-creating an unnecessary division within a pluralistic society that has coexisted for generations - now targeted by Republicanism to give rise to naked sectarianism”.
The parade will leave the town’s North Road at 6.30pm.