SDLP: ‘Parades Commission decision on Armagh parade divisive’

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Friday, March 16th, 2012
The SDLP has expressed its deep frustration and anger at the decision by the Parades Commission not to change its determination in relation to the Loyalist Band Parade though Armagh City Centre on Saint Patrick’s evening. Speaking to Newry Times, SDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Dominic Bradley MLA said, ‘We are deeply disappointed by the decision of the Parades Commission not to change its original ruling in relation to the Loyalist Band Parade through Armagh on Saint Patrick’s evening.” Bradley continued, “Yesterday we met Senior PSNI Officers and today my colleagues and I made further representations to the Parades Commission. In both our meetings we expressed the very real concerns of local people from right across the community about the huge impact that their decision will have on community relations and the economy locally. Their decision this evening only reaffirms the view of the local community that the Parades Commission have shown no regard for the future of Armagh in allowing this very confrontational parade through the city.” SDLP Group Leader on Armagh Council, Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon also expressed his astonishment. “In recent days we have had hundreds of calls, messages and e-mails from very concerned residents who are astonished at prospect of a Loyalist Band Parade being forced through Armagh on Saint Patrick’s evening, many saying they will not be next or near the city on the day. Business and community leaders asked us to plead with the Commission to see sense and find an alternative route for this parade. So much good work has been done in recent years and now, we fear this has all been in vain. It’s all well and good for the commission, they don’t have to live with the consequences of their decisions but local people do.” He added, “This evening’s decision comes as no surprise. Local people are really anxious about the weekend. The people of Armagh don’t want this parade through the city but they don’t want trouble either.” Armagh City SDLP Councillor Mealla Campbell, who also met with the Parades Commission said, “We would appeal for calm in the coming days, this city has a proud history of tolerance and respect and we are committed to building that tolerant and embracing Armagh of the future, we would appeal for calm over the weekend. Please don’t let those who want to stir tension or discontent rule the day.”
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