Ballymaconnelly Sons Of Conquerors Parade - 21/08/09

It had been big news up and down the country and further afield for the weeks leading up to the parade. Sinn Fienn had to make its mark somewhere and dissidents had been taking all the recent headlines. In Rasharkin, Protestant homes, halls and anything British was being attacked with of course, noone arrested!

The village itself has a small minority Protestant population of about 10%. Ethinic cleansing is at work on a hugh scale. The band, Ballymaconnelly are indeed under immense pressure from many angles as they cant be seen to give up. People need to realise these guys are just a band, nothing else. They have to withstand pressure from all sorts. Well done to them for standing firm!

By the time we arrived the parade was well under way. We quickly formed up and started the parade. It just seemed a normal walk with stalls, kids and crowds etc. But, as we made our way down the narrow road to the applause of the crowds the land rovers became visible. Past the line we came face to face with Republicans blowing whistles, holding placards, blowing horns and shouting abuse. What these people got away with was totally unacceptable. Do the PSNI and the Parades commission allow this? Up close and personal certainly lets you know what side of the fence we belong to. Equal rights my behind!

Once past this stretch of people the parade came to a halt to allow a quicker return route. Even down at this part of the route SF supporters continued to take photos of the bands trying to make life that wee bit harder for them. Making our way back up the bands had to endure it all once again with the horns, whistles, signs and the shouting of abuse. A very hostile situation which ill remind alot of under age kids took the brunt of also.

Below are a selection of photographs of the band in action.

Colour Party Drum Corps Bass drum Flute corp

Here is clips of the band in action:

Every band on the night deserve a round of applause. Their postive and respectful behaviour under so much pressure was hard to do. This i am sure got up the noses of the "so called" peaceful protesters.

I must mention the reception the bands got on the return route. It was truely brilliant. Bandsmen, followers and spectators all massed together in a display of unity i havent witnessed in a long time. If one thing unites our people, its when our backs are up against the wall and the only thing to do is unite and fight! I dont think myself or the band will forget this night. A trully rare sight of all shades of Loyalism uniting, in the persuit of nothing but equal rights in our very own country.

All bandsmen, followers and spectators should give themselves a pat on the back. But dont forget, for the Protestant people of Rasharkin this isnt a one night thing, this is their lives.

Well done to the boys in BSOC!

John Keenan
East Belfast Protestant Boys Flute Band Chairman