Somme parade decision expected this week

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The Parades Commission will make a decision on the proposed annual Killowen LOL 930 Battle of the Somme parade later this week.

The parade, which passed off peacefully last year, has been marked as ‘sensitive’ by the Commission.

In a statement the Commission said: “The Commission considers parades which give rise to sensitivities.

“These sensitivities may be identified by the PSNI on receipt of a notice to parade, or by the Commission, and can include matters such as the potential impact on relationships within the community.

“The Killowen LOL 930 ‘Battle of the Somme Parade’ notified to take place on July 1, is due to be considered by the Commission on 22 June.”

The Times understands that a number of elected representatives have written to the Parades Commission in support of the parade.

Back in 2014, there were nine arrests on the night of the parade, following public disorder and provocative conduct.

DUP MLA Adrian McQuillan said: “I am supporting this application on historical grounds.

“This Battle is commemorated in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland as both countries suffered massive losses.

“I believe it is important to commemorate such historical events and traditionally this parade has been an appropriate method of doing so for decades.

“The Orange Order in the Killowen area has worked tirelessly in the past to reduce tensions and build up relations in an attempt to manage cultural diversity.

“In addition to this a strong marshalling team has been set up in the town to help with all types of band parades, and has been recognised by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council for its successful work,” he said.

District Master, George Duddy echoed the MLA’s comments.

He took the view that the Killowen Lodge had been ‘penalised’ and ‘victimised’ by the parades body.

“The Parades Commission, an unelected quango, has no knowledge of this area that they are making a decision on.

“They do not know what happens in this area the other 364 days of the year, so I do not understand how they can make a fair decision.

“Over fifty percent of the homes on the street in question, Somerset Drive, are currently resided byforeign nationals.

“The Killowen Lodge has engaged with them and the Killowen community in every way possible.

“I would just ask the Parades Commission what impact their decisions have on community relations, and how it will affect those relations in the long term,” he added.