Orange Order in legal bid to change Belfast parade ruling

Wed, Jul 11, 2012, 01:00

ORANGE ORDER and loyalist representatives were last night planning to mount a judicial review today to compel the Parades Commission to change a ruling that a controversial parade must pass a flashpoint area by 4pm tomorrow.

The annual Twelfth of July tensions are again mounting in north Belfast ahead of tomorrow’s contentious Orange Order return parade past the Ardoyne shops, the scene of serious republican rioting in recent years.

Loyalists yesterday evening staged a protest close to the shops to express opposition to a commission ruling that the return feeder parade involving one band and three Orange lodges must happen by 4pm tomorrow, July 12th.

In previous years, the controversial return parade happened between 7pm and 8.15pm. Senior Orange Order figures and members of the North and West Belfast Parades Forum, which represents Orange and loyalist interests in the area, contend it will be “impossible” for the return parade to meet the 4pm deadline. They described the ruling as “foolish”.

They said the return element of the main parade would only be getting into gear at about that time. They said the deadline would prevent the north Belfast Orangemen fully engaging in the speeches and religious ceremony at Barnett Demesne in south Belfast where Orangemen and supporters gather at the completion of the outward element of the main parade.

“In addition to the normal denials of rights and freedoms that the Parades Commission regularly impose, this impossible demand would deny these brethren the opportunity to attend the platform proceedings, including the religious service at Barnett Demesne,” said a spokesman for the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast.

A judicial review is expected to be lodged by the North and West Belfast Parades Forum at Belfast High Court today to try to compel the commission to change its 4pm ruling and allow the return feeder parade take place at a later time.

The annual north Belfast community tensions are exacerbated because of a decision by the commission to allow the nationalist Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC), viewed as sympathetic to dissident republicans, to stage a parade at Ardoyne shops at 5.30pm tomorrow.

The commission met yesterday evening to review the latest developments. There is also growing concern around a return Orange parade in Crumlin, Co Antrim on the Twelfth evening.

Peter Osborne, chairman of the Parades Commission, has appealed for calm.