Commission again bans Orange Order from Ardoyne shops tomorrow
Orange parade told to disperse at Woodvale Road where fierce rioting erupted on Twelfth of July
Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly leads a delegation to meet the Parades Commission at their offices at Bedford Street Belfasttoday (June 18th) . Gerry Kelly pictured speaking after his meeting with the Parades Commission.
There was renewed tension in Belfast last night after the Orange Order said it would press ahead with a parade tomorrow to the same flashpoint where serious rioting erupted last Friday, the Twelfth of July.
The Parades Commission yesterday refused the Orange Order permission to parade past the flashpoint Ardoyne shops in north Belfast tomorrow. It ruled the parade of 500 Orangemen and three bands must disperse at the junction of Woodvale Road and Woodvale Parade 300 metres short of the shops.
The order had sought permission to parade on to the Crumlin Road, past the shops and on to Ligoniel Orange Hall and thus effectively complete its Twelfth return evening parade.
This was the scene of fierce violence last Friday, the Twelfth, when loyalists and Orangemen attacked police lines.
The commission has also ruled the parade, which is due to start from the Shankill area at 2.45pm, must disperse by 4.30pm.
The commission, in issuing its determination, heard representations yesterday from Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association and written representations from residents living on Woodvale Road and Woodvale Parade.
The commission said it was “disappointed it had not received representations from the parade organiser the Orange Order or from any unionist politicians”.
The 0rder made clear it would go ahead with tomorrow’s restricted parade notwithstanding the concerns. A spokesman appealed for calm and added: “People are entitled to express their views through peaceful protest in a democratic society – however, those intent on causing trouble should stay away from Saturday’s parade.”
Sinn Féin North Belfast Assembly member Gerry Kelly said the commission’s ruling was sensible. “Whoever in the Orange Order thought this was a good move needs to reflect on how it has increased tensions and done absolutely nothing to point towards a resolution of the situation,” he said.
“The Orange Order in Belfast need to step out of the bubble they are living in. They cannot threaten and intimidate people into getting their way and can no longer ignore the feelings of people their parades affect in a negative way.
“What needs to happen now is for the Orange Order to step back from their confrontational mode and for wise heads to prevail. Dialogue between the parade organisers and the residents affected is the way to resolve this issue, not by increasing tensions with further parades,” he added.
SDLP North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness also welcomed the decision. “I hope that the Orange Order and others will observe and respect this decision,” he said.
“The Orange Order might consider that Peter Robinson and [Ulster Unionist leader] Mike Nesbitt both urged people in a joint statement from all party leaders to observe the Parades Commission determination before the Twelfth,” he added.
“I hope that people remain calm in light of this decision and give the opportunity for local dialogue to be re-established and for a peaceful backdrop to the Haass talks,” said Mr Maginness.
The Orange Order made its application for this latest parade on Wednesday, the same day that US diplomat Dr Richard Haass arrived in Belfast to chair the first all-party Assembly group charged with trying to find a resolution to issues such as parading, protests, flags, and emblems.