Northern Secretary appeals for calm before tomorrow’s parade
Orange Order says Belfast parade must be peaceful
Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers has urged Orange Order leaders, politicians and community representatives to try to defuse tensions this weekend. Photograph: PA Wire
There will be extensive security in north Belfast as 500 Orangemen and three bands prepare to march tomorrow afternoon to the scene of fierce rioting on the Woodvale Road last week on July 12th.
Yesterday the Parades Commission refused Orangemen permission to effectively complete their originally planned Twelfth return journey tomorrow. They had sought to march from the Shankill and up the Woodvale Road, on to the Crumlin Road, past the shops at nationalist Ardoyne and home to Ligoniel Orange Hall.
The parade is scheduled to begin in the Shankill area at about 2.45pm and must, according to the commission’s determination, disperse at the junction of Woodvale Road and Woodvale Parade.
This is where police lines blocking the road were attacked by loyalists and Orangemen on the Twelfth. That night, and in the following days, the disorder spread to east and south Belfast and to areas such as Newtownabbey and Portadown. More than 70 officers were injured while there have been scores of arrests.
There is an additional concern that Orangemen will make weekly applications to parade past the Ardoyne shops and that equally on a weekly basis they will be blocked by police on the Woodvale Road, just 300 metres short of the shops. This could create a situation similar to Drumcree in Portadown where each week the Orange Order makes unsuccessful applications to parade on to the nationalist Garvaghy Road.
The Orange Order today appealed for a peaceful parade and for marchers to disperse on the Woodvale Road after the British national anthem is played. A leaflet to be handed out today to Orangemen and supporters states: “No matter what the provocation violence is not the answer. Any violence will play into the hands of republicanism.”
The leaflet added that the parade was “to show we have not and will not go away”.
Pressure on PSNI
The violence of the past week and more has put severe pressure on the Police Service of Northern Ireland. There are currently some 600 officers from English, Scottish and Welsh forces assisting local police. At the height of the trouble last weekend, Terry Spence, head of the North’s representative Police Federation, said the PSNI could have been “overwhelmed” but for the support of the British officers.
Ms Villiers said today that she understood that many people strongly disagreed with recent Parades Commission determinations. “But however they feel, there can be no justification for lawless behaviour,” she insisted. “The violent protests must stop. I once again call on all those with influenceto help defuse tensions.”