Proliferation of Loyalist flags and Parades in Castlederg 'Ridiculous' - Mc Hugh
Published: 9 July, 2014
Sinn Féin has branded the amount of Loyalist parades coupled with the saturation of the town of Castlederg with loyalist flags as
'beyond ridiculous'. Councillor Ruairí Mc Hugh was speaking in advance of a Sinn Féin delegation meeting with the Parades Commission in Belfast on Wednesday morning to make objections to contentious loyalist parades due to take place over the Twelfth period, he said
'' We have only just had a large band parade in the town in June which saw the town locked down until shortly after 11pm on a Friday night with people having to be diverted along country roads just to get to their own homes in the town. Subsequently, Castlederg has had parades on July 1 and July 6, it is due to have two more separate parades on the 11th night as well as parades on the morning and evening of the twelfth of July. Added to that, we now also have a further additional parade applied for on the 14th of July which has like the 11th of July parade applied to march close to the Nationalist Castlefin Park estate. There has been no attempt by those applying for these parades to enter into any form of dialogue with community representatives, residents or business people, something the Parades commission places great emphasis on.
'' To add to the anger and frustration of people the entire town and roads leading into it have been covered in loyalist flags for the previous three weeks. Many of these flags have been erected deliberately and provocatively outside Nationalist homes and businesses without any regard or consideration given to them.
'' People are sick of it and who would blame them? Last August we had Protestant church leaders, Unionist politicians and a so called Nationalist MLA condemning a solitary Republican commemoration for the negative impact it would have on community relations which in stark contrast to every single loyalist demonstration in Castlederg was banned from entering the supposedly shared space of the town centre. Unsurprisingly these same people have nothing to say on the completely over the top amount of loyalist flags and parades and the impact they have on community relations.
'' Recently we have also seen a group of Castlederg business people come together in an effort to run and plan events in the town in order to try and generate some much needed foot fall, these events have been successful and more are planned in the near future, but who would be encouraged to come into Castlederg for these events whenever they see it covered in loyalist flags, it's not exactly a welcoming sight to would be visitors
'' Nobody is saying the Protestant community are not entitled to celebrate their cultural identity and heritage but there needs to be some common sense shown and consideration given to others in the town in terms of the number of parades and flags in what at the end of the day are in a town where the majority of residents do not come from the unionist tradition".