Protests at route taken by Orange parade

 

Hundreds of Orangemen protesting at the banning of the Drumcree parade last night marched through a town where three young children were murdered at the height of the violent summer stand-off.

The decision to stage the protest parade in Ballymoney, Co Antrim - where the three Quinn brothers died in a sectarian petrol bomb attack on their home in July - was condemned by nationalist and unionist politicians.

It went ahead despite a last-minute plea from the Quinn family for the Orangemen not to be insensitive and to stay away.

The parade in the town centre did not pass near the house where the boys died. And at a rally, a one-minute silence was held in memory of all the victims of violence - including an RUC man, Mr Frankie O'Reilly, who died recently after being injured during riots after a Drumcree support rally in Portadown last month.

The Orangemen rejected condemnation of their parade. "I'm fed up with the Orange Order being demonised. The only resolution to the problem is to let Orangemen march down the Garvaghy Road," Co Antrim Orange Grand Master Robert McIlroy told the rally.

Hours before the Orangemen converged on the town - including several bus loads from Portadown - an uncle of the murdered boys appealed for them to stay away.

Mr Frankie Quinn said no one had asked the family how they felt about the parade and branded it "insensitive".

The Ulster Unionist Party Assembly member for North Antrim, Mr James Leslie, also condemned the parade as "unfortunate and inappropriate".

His distress was shared by Mr Sean Farren of the SDLP, an Assembly member for the area. "I wonder whether they have considered the kind of message this parade