A Sinn Fein MLA has expressed disappointment at a determination by the Parades Commission on Sunday’s Kevin Lynch Memorial Flute Band Parade.
The annual parade in memory of INLA hunger striker Kevin Lynch is due to start at 12.15 on Sunday, with 10 bands and 400 participants. According to the Parades Commission there are 150 supporters expected.
In their determination issued on Wednesday afternoon, the Commission imposed 10 conditions on the parade. One condition states that paramilitary-style clothing must not be worn at any time during the parade; flags, bannerettes and symbols relating to a proscribed organisation must in no circumstances be displayed; and musical instruments must not bear any inscription or mark of a proscribed organisation.
The Commission also states that all participants and supporters in the parade must refrain from using words or behaviour which could reasonably be perceived as intentionally sectarian, provocative, threatening, abusive, insulting or lewd. The determination also states there should be no undue stoppages or delays and, where practicable, the parade shall stay close to the near side of the road at all times.
East Derry Sinn Fein assemblyman Cathal ÓhOísin met with the Parades Commission on Wednesday about the parade. He said, as far as he is aware, it is the first time a determination has been issued on the parade, which is now in its 34th year. Mr ÓhOísin accused the Commission of making “a mountain out of a molehill on an issue which never existed previously”. He also said he was disappointed because there had been “good sense” shown in recent times and good community relations, and he questioned how the determination may impact future parades in the town.
“This will not be helpful,” added Mr. ÓhOísin.
INLA prisoner Kevin Lynch from Dungiven died after 71 days on hunger strike in Long Kesh. The youngest of eight children, he was 25 at the time of his death on August 1, 1981.
Kevin Lynch’s brother, Gerald said he doesn’t understand why a determination was issued “as there has never been any trouble in the past, or with any of the bands attending”. Mr Lynch told the ‘Journal’: “The Kevin Lynch Memorial Flute Band always behaves with pride, honour and dignity, and they don’t adhere to bigoted or sectarian commentary. They wouldn’t stoop to that level.”
The Kevin Lynch Memorial Flute Band will also hold a parade in Dungiven on Friday evening, 24th July, however, the Parades Commission has said it has decided not to impose conditions on this parade.
In June, the Dungiven Concerned Residents’ Association agreed not to stage a protest during an annual Orange Order parade in Dungiven. However, an Association spokesperson said the determination on the Kevin Lynch parade could impact future negotiations surrounding that parade.
A spokesperson for Dungiven Concerned Residents’ Association said: “We would be fearful of the ramifications of the determination on future parades in the town. The Parades Commission has made a terrible blunder and they are pandering to people from outside this community. In a single stroke, they have undone all the good work that has been achieved in recent months, and any chance of reaching agreement in future marches and protests will now be extremely doubtful.”