Northern Ireland

Orange Order says protests will follow Ardoyne parade decision

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Media captionDeputy County Grand Master for Belfast, Spencer Beattie, delivered the speech on Thursday

The Orange Order has said there will be "protests in the coming days" over the Parades Commission's decision on a north Belfast parade.

The commission ruled that the order could not hold a return parade along a contentious stretch of road on 12 July.

The order said the commission had created a "crisis" with its decision to ban the parade past Ardoyne shops.

It added that it was its "earnest intent and prayer that the protests will be peaceful".

Orange Order Deputy County Grand Master for Belfast, Spencer Beattie, said it would no longer tolerate the "vindictiveness of the Parades Commission".

'Community relations'

He said the order asked that the commission "is no longer recognised, acknowledged or engaged with by any member of the unionist community".

"It is a determination that will halt progress towards a shared future and will set back community relations," he added.

"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.

"Belfast is not a city of equals when the Parades Commission, at the behest of nationalists, discriminates against and demonises the unionist community."

Mr Beattie said the Parades Commission's decision on the order's feeder parade past Ardoyne shops, on the Crumlin Road, showed that "violence pays".

He said he looked forward to actions "planned by our unionist politicians and parties that will show - no longer will our British culture be attacked with impunity".

"The Protestant unionist loyalist community has had enough - the rot stops now," Mr Beattie added.

'Very angry'

Orange Order chaplain Mervyn Gibson said the Grand Lodge would not consider the Twelfth commemorations to be completed until members impacted by the commission's decision were allowed to return home via the Crumlin Road.

Mr Gibson denied that the Orange Order stance was provocative.

He told the Press Association: "We don't want to up the ante here, we don't want to raise tensions.

"What we are trying to do is give vent to people's anger in a peaceful and controlled way, but there are people out there who are angry, very angry.

"What we are saying is, 'control that anger and channel it against the Parades Commission'."

Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr of the Police Service of Northern Ireland said they had the necessary resources to deal with commission's determination.

"We want to uphold it in a way that there is no violent confrontation and that nobody gets hurt," he said, adding that "people have a choice to make tomorrow."

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers has urged everyone involved with this weekend's parades to observe the rule of law.

Following a meeting with Chief Constable Matt Baggott, she said that "those who are calling people on to the streets at a time of heightened tension must be aware of the possible consequences of their actions and the potential risks to public safety that could result".

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