A massive loyalist parade through Lurgan has been given the go-ahead this Easter however it has been panned as ‘provocative’.
Thousands of Apprentice Boys are expected to march through the town centre on Easter Monday.
The Parades Commission has given approval for the parade though it has made some restrictions on its route.
It is expected that around 3,600 participants will be at the parade as well as 61 bands.
It is the first time in around 20 years since such a massive Apprentice Boys of Derry parade has marched through Lurgan.
However the decision to allow the parade has been branded ‘provocative’ by SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly.
The parade is due to march through the town on Easter Monday just weeks before republicans are set to commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising.
Easter falls early this year and most of the Republican events are set to take place on the date of the 1916 Rising in April.
The only notified parade on the Republican side is the annual one organised by the National Graves Association and involving Lurgan Martyrs’ Republican Flute Band, which will take place in Lurgan on Easter Sunday.
Mrs Kelly said the Apprentice Boys parade was “provocative” and a waste of police resources.
She also described the procession as nothing more than a “coat-trailing exercise”.
“I really regard this as a provocative parade, given the timing of it, and I welcome restrictions being placed on it,” said Mrs Kelly.
“I would hope that there is no trouble or violence and that people are respectful and that the parade goes to time.”
The parade comes as police are on high alert due to heightened tensions in the run-up to the Easter Rising centenary commemorations.
Mrs Kelly said the parade was a waste of public funds.
“There will be a police presence here at a time when the resources are already stretched,” she added.
“It is going to be held at an emotive time as other people mark the historical Easter Rising.
“It’s disruptive to the town and on Easter Monday when families go on day trips, but I would urge people to ignore it and go about their business.”
“Whoever organised this could have chosen a different place to minimise any potential trouble, particularly at a time when the police are stretched as it is. It’s nothing more than a coat-trailing exercise.”
Ulster Unionist councillor Colin McCusker welcomed the parade. “The last time this parade took place in Lurgan it snowed and Brownlow House was in a bad state of repair - how times have changed,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
“The Loyal Orders in Lurgan, and the Apprentice Boys in particular, have been working very hard to build a united community in Lurgan, as well as striving to ensure there are no no-go areas for their organisation.”
The parade will leave Windsor Avenue at 1.45pm.
It will parade down Market St to the War Memorial then down Union Street veering off towards Edward St via Millenium Way returning back Millenium Way towards Russell Drive, Mourne Road, Pollock Drive, Gilford Rd and back up to the town via Queen St.