A staunch defence of marching band culture has been launched by the DUP in a Co Londonderry town where Sinn Féin are urging locals to complain to the Parades Commission.
Sinn Féin Cllr Brenda Chivers, a former Mayor of Limavady, said the town has a “large nationalist community which must be respected” in remarks that have been heavily criticised by the DUP. She complained that Limavady town centre is being “brought to a standstill” too often as she urged locals to complain to the Parades Commission.
The DUP, however, have launched a defence of marching band culture in the town as they branded Cllr Chivers “negative and uninformed.”
In a statement issued on behalf of DUP Cllrs Alan Robinson, James McCorkell and Aaron Callan, the party said culture should be “celebrated, not attacked” as they highlighted the positive role played by marching bands in shaping young people’s lives.
Sinn Féin’s Brenda Chivers, speaking after a parade in Limavady by Edenmore Flute Band on Friday, April 21, had said: “We have no problem with people celebrating their culture, but Limavady has a large nationalist community which must be respected.” She added: “The town centre cannot be brought to a standstill so often. I would encourage anyone with issues or concerns to direct them to the Parades Commission.”
Responding, the DUP Cllrs Callan, McCorkell and Robinson said: “The parade was organised by Edenmore Flute Band who have been on the road for over 125 years. We attended the parade which had great public support and no trouble whatsoever.
“Marching bands are probably the largest musical movement in Western Europe. They train young people to read music and play a number of different instruments. The bands offer a positive outlet for young people to get involved in. This should be celebrated not attacked. Culture enriches, when accepted for what it is. In the past we have witnessed attacks on halls, parades and members, which is the physical expression of contempt of our culture.”
The DUP statement continued: “Secondly, there is a small number of these parades each year which last approximately two hours. During this parade in question, the PSNI allowed cars to move throughout the parade so there was limited disruption to people going about their business.
“In addition to this, the parade also brings a great number of people to the area who spend locally. This in turn means that local businesses will be benefiting.
“For these reasons, we would like to ask Cllr. Chivers to get her facts right before making uninformed comments.”
The DUP Cllrs also criticised Sinn Féin’s approach to “monuments and murals” in Co Londonderry and added their voices to those condemning Sinn Féin leader Michelle O’Neill for her decision to attend an event to mark 30 years since eight IRA men were shot dead by the SAS at Loughgall.
Their statement continued: “Thirdly, we would ask Sinn Fein to address their own problems before attacking the culture of others. We just have to look at Dungiven where for 365 days a year there are monuments and murals glorifying terrorism. This gives no consideration to those who have to travel through the village, especially, those victims who were affected by the repugnant terrorist campaign.
“Yet, this is still endorsed by Sinn Fein. We have also seen the Sinn Fein’s Northern Ireland leader recently attend and address various events endorsing terrorism.”