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Video 1: Belfast parades

BBC reporter:
This has always been a tense and controversial parade. Last year, hundreds walked the route including spectators and supporters. Nationalist residents staged a sometimes angry protest - particularly when paramilitary flags were displayed.
This year, the determination is clear. On the Twelfth, it should be only members of the lodges walking on the return leg of this journey. But the Orange Order claims that would leave those following the parade isolated at the bottom of the road on Monday night and it says that's totally unacceptable.

Representatives from all ten of the Orange Orders districts in Belfast met last night, just behind me, at the Clifton Street Orange Hall. They won't say what was decided, but the mood was angry. And it's understood they plan to block main roads in and out of Belfast as the Ligoniel parade attempts to make its way home.

Nigel Dodds, DUP MP North Belfast:
There's never been any issue about the bands and therefore I think that that, coupled with leaving the spectators stranded, is a very, very serious situation on the night of the twelfth of July and I know that the police are very concerned about it as well.

BBC reporter:
But raising the heat of the situation by having protests in other parts of Belfast does not do any good, surely?

Nigel Dodds, DUP MP North Belfast:
Well, I think it remains to be seen what's going to happen. The responsibility here, in terms of the chaos that could ensue, is very clearly the result of the Parades Commission's ludicrous decision, in my view.

BBC reporter:
At the end of last month, the Parades Commission did change its ruling to allow the Whiterock Parade to walk along the Springfield Road. That followed talks between the recently formed North and West Belfast Parades' Forum and residents. The Forum includes Orange Order members, unionist politicians and loyalist paramilitaries. But it seems clear that the Parades Commission has no intention of changing its determination this time. It wouldn't comment on the issue of blockades. But, on the Ligoniel ruling, it said that it sees this parade as a significant test of the loyalist and unionist community to adhere to the law, and deliver a peaceful and lawful procession on the day.

Eoin Ó'Broin, Sinn Fein Councillor North Belfast:
Obviously this heightens the tensions. There has been a lot of very good work along the interfaces across the city by politicians and community workers in the months leading up to this. Unfortunately, the Orange Order's announcement today flies in the face of that and makes the work that we are all trying to do to keep this a calm summer incredibly difficult.

BBC reporter:
But many Protestant residents of Ligoniel are angry and determined to show their opposition to the decision. They have blocked this road several times this week. And, as Monday looms, there is concern among Nationalist residents who have had to walk through the protests.

The intimidation that I felt - it was just really strong and I just think that it's- everybody has the right to protest, I'm not saying they don't. But when it comes to disrupting people's lives and people having to get home, it's, it's just not on.


BBC reporter:
The Police are working with groups throughout Belfast but they know that they have a potentially very difficult situation on their hands. Tonight they said that communities have the right to parade and to protest, but they made clear that with those rights come responsibilities.

Chris Buckler - BBC Newsline, Belfast. (09/07/2004)

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