Northern Ireland

Sinn Fein discuss Rasharkin parade with police

Sinn Fein has raised concerns with police about the handling of a loyalist parade in Rasharkin.

A security alert delayed the parade by three hours on Friday night.

Sinn Fein objected that police re-routed it in the opposite direction to the agreed route without clearing the decision with the Parades Commission.

North Antrim MLA Daithi McKay said it had been a useful meeting which "gave us the opportunity to directly put our concerns to senior PSNI officers".

"Amongst the issues raised was the fact that the PSNI should not be determining parade routes; this was compounded by the fact that the parade itself took place after midnight and therefore on a new date without any determination," he said.

"This is particularly significant given the fact that this is the most contentious band parade in the north."

Mr McKay said the police had "acknowledged the fact that they had received numerous phone calls from residents in Rasharkin regarding the intimidation which took place in the south of the village and that there was a possibility of a significant breach of the peace".

On Saturday, police said they reversed the route of the parade to prevent further delays.

"This was a practical solution to a problem that was not of the making of the parade organisers or the residents group," Chief Inspector Ryan Henderson said.

He said the decision to change the route was because "the safety of everyone in the area was our first priority".

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