SDLP supports Coleraine parade restrictions

John Dallat MLA.
John Dallat MLA.

The SDLP have backed a determination by the Parades Commission to restrict an Orange parade in Coleraine.

The parade, organised by Killowen Orange Lodge will not be allowed to into the Pates Lane area, on Wednesday.

John Dallat MLA pointed out that this is where the late Kevin McDaid lost his life after being attacked by a loyalist mob in May 2009 and Damien Fleming was left in a coma as well as a pregnant woman also attacked.

In a statement Mr Dallat said: “The Parades Commission is correct to recognise that there have been serious difficulties in the past in relation to parades in the Killowen area with less than adequate engagement by the organisers with the local community.

“The Commission is right to highlight and place emphasis on the reason for the event, the Commemoration of the Battle of the Somme, which many soldiers from both communities fought, lost their lives or were seriously injured during this terrible event. 

“It should not, therefore, be an opportunity to risk a repeat of previous events in which one man died, others were injured and community relations suffered, none of which could be associated with the dreadful events of World War I.”

Mr Dallat said that the Commission “is right to determine that the parade should proceed towards Waterside and not turn into Pates Lane where there have been serious community tension in the past leading to breakdowns in law and order and a serious stretch of scarce police resources covering several days.

Furthermore the Commission is right to ask that the parade shall begin and disperse promptly and to stipulate that there is an adequate number of stewards, fully briefed on the Commission’s Code of Conduct to insist that all parade participants act in an orderly manner and that they obey any direction given by the police in relation to this parade. Furthermore it is essential that all participants are fully aware of their responsibilities in relation to good conduct and respect for law and order.

“Finally and not least important the Commission is correct to stipulate that in no circumstances should any flags or items relating to a proscribed organization be displayed. Sadly and regrettably Coleraine is festooned with flags which are directly associated with the UVF, UDA and UFF.

“ It is highly desirable that any event commemorating the First World War is inclusive and certainly should not having the potential to undermine the very positive work done by the churches and other organisations in Coleraine to build an inclusive society where our history can be shared.

“Regrettably there is a long way to go in Coleraine before we get there and the determinations of the Parades Commission accurately identify the dangers that still exist and need to be taken into account in deciding to allow parades through mixed areas.”