Orange Order to protest over parade route decision
Parades Commission caused ’crisis’ and ’consequences rest firmly’ at its door
The Orange Order parades along Drumcree road outside Portadown Co Armagh. Photograph: : Julien Behal/PA Wire
The Orange Order has stated that protests will be staged “over the coming period” against the decision by the North’s Parades Commission to ban three north Belfast lodges from returning past the flashpoint Ardoyne shops tomorrow evening .
The Order at a Belfast press conference this afternoon also opened up the possibility of a standoff between Orangemen and the PSNI tomorrow evening when Belfast deputy grand master Spencer Beattie said its Twelfth parades would not be over until the lodges finished their traditional route home past the shops.
“The County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast intend to mark the victory of King William lll, Prince of Orange as we always do, with a parade to the field and a parade home from the field,” he said.
“However, the Twelfth day celebrations will only be complete when all our brethren, sisters, bandsmen and supporters are home safe,” added Mr Beattie.
The Rev Mervyn Gibson, chaplain of the Grand Orange Lodge, would not say where and what type of protests would be held. Neither would he say if a standoff would be held on the Woodvale Road close to the interface at the Ardoyne shops. “The three Ligoniel lodges, until they get home the rest of the parade is not over,” he said.
“If anyone wants to come along all I am asking is that their intentions are peaceful,” he added.
Mr Beattie said the Parades Commission had created “this crisis” and the “consequences rest firmly at their door”. And he added, “Yes we are angry, there will be protests over the coming period, but it is our earnest intention and prayer that those protests will be peaceful.”
Nationalists have called off protests after the commission issued its determination that the Orangemen must not parade by the Ardoyne shops on the Crumlin Road tomorrow evening. Orangemen are permitted to parade past this largely nationalist flashpoint tomorrow morning on their way to the main Belfast parade.
Mr Beattie said the ruling would “halt progress” towards a shared future in Belfast and would set back community relations. “You cannot have a shared city when Protestants are excluded from two of the main arterial routes into Belfast; you cannot have a shared future where Christian music is banned from our streets,” he said.
“Belfast is not a city of equals when the Parades Commission at the behest of nationalists discriminate and demonise the unionist community. A shared future involving the Parades Commission creates cultural; physical and spiritual apartheid, a shared future with the Parades Commission is a sham,” added Mr Beattie.
The PSNI has drafted into 630 British police officers who were involved in the recent G8 security operation to assist local officers try to maintain order over the Twelfth period.