TUV leader Jim Allister, who is also a North Antrim MLA, has accused the Parades Commission of “exceeding its powers” regarding a plan by lambeg drummers to parade through Broughshane to mark ‘The Twelfth’ this year.
In a statement to ‘Ballymena Daily’, Mr Allister said: “The Parades Commission has no function or role in enforcing the Coronavirus Regulations.
“Yet, it has taken it upon itself to refuse applications and direct some who have filed 11/1 notifications to withdraw them.
“An example in my constituency illustrates the point. Two lambeg drummers served a 11/1 notice in respect of their intention to parade up the Main Street in Broughshane on the morning of 13 July in substitute for the normal Twelfth celebrations.
“They specified they would be accompanied by two relief drummers and a marshal in front and behind.
“Six people in total and all socially distancing. Thus, all compliant with the Coronavirus Regulations and their permitting of outdoor activity.
“The Parades Commission instead of issuing a determination has demanded they withdraw the application. In this I believe they have overreached their powers and demonstrated their innate aversion to all things loyalist and unionist.”
Ballymena TUV Councillor Matthew Armstrong, added: “It is bad enough when the Parades Commission abuses the powers it has, but here they want to exercise control they don’t have.
“It is their duty to receive and consider applications, not to require them to be withdrawn. I see nothing in this proposal which threatens public health and, therefore, for what it is worth, I call on the Executive to make clear that such a proposal does not breach their regulations and to advise the Parades Commission to wind its neck in.”
A spokesperson for the Parades Commission told ‘Ballymena Daily’: “Under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 introduced on 28th March 2020, parades are not permitted at this stage due to restrictions on movement and gatherings. The enabling announcements for the gradual increase in activity has not yet referred to parades.
“Communications on 9th June 2020 with the organiser of a parade in Broughshane on 13th July 2020 indicated that he was content to withdraw his notification, pending updates to the Regulations. The Commission has received no further communications from the organiser.
“The Commission encourages parade organisers to submit notifications when the Regulations are updated to permit parades. This will provide parade organisers with a clearer understanding of what public health restrictions may apply.”
- Statements can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org