Loyalist parade spokesman: ‘We’re already planning for 2013 parade’
The Loyalist parade which went through Armagh last night has passed off peacefully. Newry Times has reported extensively over the past several weeks about the Rising Sons of William Flute Band and nationalist anger at the Parades Commission’s determination to let it go ahead on St Patrick’s evening.
Speaking today to Newry Times, the organiser of the band, Quincey Dougan, thanked all those who contributed to making the parade a success. He stated, “Despite certain groups attempting to ratchet up tensions the evening passed off peacefully and a great display of music and colour was enjoyed by all. The event started shortly after half past 7, stopping well before the 10.30pm finish time stipulated by the Parades Commission. In all 43 bands participated, with excellent crowds lining the procession route. In terms of active participants, the musicians, the evening actually surpassed the Dublin celebrations.”There was however, a number of minor disturbances and Dougan stressed that this was minor and to be expected. He continued, “The atmosphere within the City generally was very relaxed. Regretfully a hoax bomb intended to disrupt the band procession caused major disruption to the afternoon parade and to the City business community in what are difficult economic times. At all other times traffic moved freely with no significant disruption. The band would very forcefully refute those who claim that the evening event was responsible for a negative effect on other festivities during the day.”
“As planned, the evening parade took place over 3 hours after all other City Centre events had finished, with the sole disruption a direct result of those who have been making dire predictions and veiled threats of wide-scale public disorder. The night has been a great triumph for tolerance and respect, and is a credit to the vast majority of the nationalist community in the City. The majority of Irish Nationalists recognise the positive aspects of the Unionist community celebrating the life and legacy of Patrick, and appreciate the importance of ensuring that exclusion of cultural expression is no longer an acceptable way forward,” Quincey said.
Dougan said the success of last night’s parade has prompted the band to begin planning for the 2013 parade, which he said is scheduled for Saturday 16th March. He thinks preparation is key and wants to meet with different organisations over the next 12 months to iron out any problems. “I would appeal for all to come together well in advance to discuss and make use of the positive aspects of the evening for the City and local community. The way to ensure a shared future on this island is not via melding all our unique traditions into one large bland mass, but via respect and tolerance for each others very different approaches to cultural expression.”
Danny Kennedy – UUP MLA – praised the band’s organisers and expressed hope that it could become an annual cultural event in Armagh. Kennedy said it had always been his view that the parade would pass without a hitch, but he criticised the “almost hysterical manufactured opposition from some republican and nationalist political representatives.” He added, “Such people should reflect on their actions and words, which could have resulted in stirring up trouble where none existed.”
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