Northern Ireland

Parades Commission refuses north Belfast march plan

Orange Order meets PSNI blockade
Image caption The Orange Order applied to parade on the Crumlin Road in north Belfast on Saturday

The Orange Order has been denied permission to walk along a stretch of road in north Belfast at the centre of recent rioting.

Trouble followed a decision to prevent three lodges from walking past Ardoyne shops on the Crumlin Road on 12 July.

The Orange Order proposed a new march on Saturday on the same route.

The Parades Commission, the body that adjudicates on contentious parades in Northern Ireland, ruled on Thursday the proposed parade would not be allowed.

It said it was disappointed that unionist politicians and the organisers of the parade did not make any representations to it.

It noted that it was not a traditional parade, but instead its purpose was to complete the route on which it had placed restrictions on 12 July.

The parade would have walked along a stretch of road that separates loyalist and nationalist communities.

There has been rioting in Northern Ireland on most nights since the 12 July parade was banned march.

In response to the commission's decision, the Orange Order said: "This decision by the Parades Commission to prevent this dignified parade is a further indictment of this already discredited body.

"Amid the obvious anger which has manifested itself over recent days, to which the commission must bear full responsibility, Grand Lodge would once again appeal for calm.

"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.

"Violence is counterproductive and serves no purpose, only damaging the cause of Orangeism."

'Step out of the bubble'

Sinn Féin North Belfast assembly member Gerry Kelly, who met the Parades Commission on Thursday morning, said it had done the right thing.

"It has taken the only logical and sensible decision regarding Saturday's proposed parade," he said.

"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.

"The Orange Order in Belfast need to step out of the bubble they are living in."

He said the Orange Order's decision to apply for the parade was "crazy".

'Highly provocative'

The SDLP's Alban Maginness also met the commission on Thursday, as did north Belfast priest Father Gary Donegan and Joe Marley from the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA).

Reacting to the commission's decision, Mr Maginness said: "I hope that the Orange Order and others will observe and respect this decision.

"The Orange Order might consider that (unionist leaders) Peter Robinson and Mike Nesbitt both urged people in a joint statement from all party leaders to observe the Parades Commission determination before the 12th."

Asked whether he could see an Orange parade along the road in the future, Mr Marley said: "All three loyal orders walk on that contentious stretch of the Crumlin Road five other times a year - there are protests, it is controversial, but I think yeah, why not.

"I think if people come (to talks) with an open mind and a positive outlook, then none of these issues are insurmountable."

Alliance Party councillor John Blair said: "All sides must now respect this decision by the Parades Commission.

"They are the lawful body whose determinations should be abided by. Those who break these determinations are breaking the law."


TUV East Belfast representative Harry Tone said the Parade's Commission decision had again caused "understandable anger" within the unionist community.

"However, it is important that people heed the appeals of the Orange Order for calm," he said.

"Protests must be peaceful."

The commission's previous ruling, that the 12 July parade could pass the Ardoyne shops in the morning, but could not walk the same route in the evening, sparked anger and widespread protests from unionists.

Earlier this week, the Orange Order said it was suspending its protest against that decision, but demonstrations and disturbances have continued in some loyalist areas.

Petrol bombs

After five consecutive nights of rioting in Belfast following the banned parade last Friday, police said they dealt with fewer incidents on Wednesday night.

However, a petrol bomb hit a police vehicle in the Woodvale Road area of north Belfast, close to the scene of the Ardoyne protests.

Also in the north of the city, a parked car was set on fire after a petrol bomb was thrown in Rosapenna Street and youths threw stones at police in North Queen Street.

Stones and other missiles were also thrown by youths in parts of east Belfast, Newtownabbey, County Antrim, and Portadown, County Armagh.

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