Cairncastle Flute Band is planning a rally in Ballygally next week after the Parades Commission imposed conditions on a ‘charity parade’ planned for the Antrim coast village.
The band had requested permission to follow the route of Cairncastle Road, Brustin Lee, Croft Manor, Croft Road, Croft Park, Croft Heights, Heathdor Drive, Cairnhill Cresent, Grace Avenue and A2 on July 29.
It has organised the event to raise awareness of the charity, Every Life Matters (ELM). The charity offers mental health support in the east Antrim area.
The commission has ruled the parade may process from Cairncastle Orange Hall, along Cairncastle Road, A2 Coast Road before dispersing at Ballygally village car park.
It is prohibited from entering Brustin Lee, Croft Manor, Croft Road, Croft Park, Croft Heights, Heathdor Drive, Cairnhill Cresent and Grace Avenue.
Announcing plans for the rally on Facebook, a spokesperson for the band said: “We have been persecuted because of who we are! We will be holding a rally in Ballygally car park on Monday, July 29 around 8pm and we would like to ask you to come along.
“We would like to see a good turn out. We are hoping to have a few political statements and a charity speech. Feel free to bring a Union or Red Hand flag with you.
“We will be highlighting the Parades Commission’s intransigence and the fact it is not fit for purpose, whilst remaining focused on the charity itself.”
In a response to the Larne Times following the band’s announcement, a spokesperson for the Parades Commission said: “The commission’s decision is that the new Cairncastle Flute Band parade, which was first held last year, may proceed along the main A2 Road and the Cairncastle Road in Ballygally.
“This is the same route as the annual July 12 parade in the village. The commission has received no information that the parade along the amended route will not take place. Static events and rallies are outside the remit of the commission.”
Meanwhile, the PSNI say they are aware of the planned rally.
Chief Inspector Michael Simpson said: “Police are liaising with the organisers.”
A number of Larne residents have written to this newspaper in support for the band and its promotion of ELM after parades in Glynn and other areas.
One woman said: “As a resident of one of the areas already visited by ELM and Cairncastle Band, can I just say how amazing it was to have them march around my area.
“I’m totally in disagreement with the decision that has been made for Ballygally. I think it is a very big mistake. The band is holding these parades, reaching out to residents of the Larne area to offer the awareness and letting people know they’re not alone and there is local help in our town.”
Another man claimed: “It is shocking that a marching band that is parading different estates in Larne, in conjunction with local charity, ELM (Every Life Matters), has been banned by the Parades Commission.”
Praising the band for their efforts, a Glynn man said: “It is great to see young members of the band raising the awareness in the local areas for mental health.”
Members of the band have expressed disappointment the parade is not allowed to follow their preferred route.
One bandsman said: “These parades are an attempt by the band to help all in the communities that they take place.”
Another member said: “I just hope that common sense comes through and the Parades Commission’s decision can be reversed to help ELM and the band to help others who are in real need of it.”