The loyalist parade through the overwhelmingly nationalist village of Rasharkin has served up a number of interesting points for discussion. Firstly, of course, the arrogance of seeking- and absurdity of being permitted- to process through a village in which the overwhelming majority of residents are hostile to your agenda can best be understood by those sympathetic to the loyalist cause if they were to concede that the equivalent to this parade would be a similarly demographically profiled majority loyalist town- oh, let’s say Ballyclare for talk’s sake– being forced to host a parade involving some forty republican bands including flags and banners evoking militant republicans.
Some of those involved in the loyalist parading culture may appear to genuinely seek to reconcile their tradition with their neighbours, but I would suggest that this type of parade underlines precisely why they will gain little traction until they grasp the basic concept of respect being a two way street.
But we’ve been down that road before, and doubtless will be so again.
But this particular running of the parade has an additional point of interest due to something noted by the eagle-eyed local Sinn Fein MLA, Daithi McKay.
Prior to the parade, loyalists made a number of explicitly sectarian comments on Facebook, including a member of the Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors band, the hosts of the parade, who issued what can only be interpreted as threats to kill all members of the Catholic faith.
Such comments could only be construed as inflammatory by nature, not least due to the tensions surrounding this parade.
Now, given the PSNI record of arresting and charging individuals identified as so doing when the Facebook target was a unionist politician– or deceased PSNI officer, it will be interesting to see if this incident is followed up on.
On his own Facebook page, the Sinn Fein MLA has signalled that he has already passed on the details of this threat (presumably to the PSNI) as well as providing the details of the names of those involved and their comments, so this is space worth watching.