Northern Ireland

Danny Kennedy: Executive should discuss north Belfast parade

Danny Kennedy
Image caption Danny Kennedy said the Northern Ireland Executive should discuss the "issue of the day" - the 12 July parade in north Belfast

An executive meeting on Tuesday should discuss the Parades Commission's decision on an Orange parade, the regional development minister has said.

On Thursday, the commission barred a 12 July Orange Order parade from returning along part of the Crumlin Road in north Belfast.

As a result, unionist parties pulled out of talks on parades, flags and the past.

Ulster Unionist Danny Kennedy said he hoped Tuesday's meeting would go ahead.

Speaking on Sunday Politics, Mr Kennedy said while it should deal with normal business, he hoped it would also deal "with the here and now, the issue of the day - the Ardoyne parade".

"In the week that leads up to that parade, we've got to deal as an executive with those issues and I will be asking for that to be fully discussed in a fully comprehensive manner round the executive table by the executive parties," he said.

"It's of vital importance to stability and public order.

"Why wouldn't the executive want to discuss the issue of the day that is dominating discussion at the moment?"

Sinn Féin said the meeting was not the place to raise the issue.

"As far as I would be concerned, my party would be concerned, Danny would kind of be whistling up the wrong tree," the party's Alex Maskey said.

"They walked out of talks last week which were designed to deal with the whole issue of flags parades and the past.

"Danny can raise whatever he wishes to raise, but the 12 July parade will not be resolved in the executive meeting."

'Unionist and loyalist family's reaction'

Meanwhile, Drew Nelson, the grand secretary of the Orange Order, has said he expects "reaction" to the Parades Commission decision to continue for some time.

Speaking at the annual Drumcree parade in County Armagh on Sunday, Mr Nelson said: "We are now in a new situation where there is a realisation throughout the loyal orders and unionist political leadership that a knee-jerk reaction over the parading season is not enough.

"I therefore expect that the unionist and loyalist family's reaction will continue well after the parading season has finished and will spread into the sphere of politics and governance.

"The Grand Lodge of Ireland will hold an emergency meeting later this week, which will take place in tandem with our ongoing discussions with our unionist partners."

He again called for any protests to be peaceful.

On Thursday, Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson said the Stormont institutions had been put under threat by the Parades Commission's determination.

However, the deputy first minister, Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness, said people should abide by the decision and show leadership.

On Sunday, the SDLP's Alex Attwood said: "Following the Ardoyne decision, playing fast and loose with devolution and North/South [institutions] is the road to nowhere.

"This is the road Peter Robinson, [Ulster Unionist leader] Mike Nesbitt and others are choosing."

On Wednesday, the commission ruled that the outward leg of the parade could proceed along the road.

However, it said that only hymn music could be played by bands.

The road separates unionist and nationalist communities in north Belfast and it is the second year in a row that the commission has ruled against the return leg of the 12 July parade marching along the route.

In its determination on the return leg, the Parades Commission said: "On the notified return route, the parade shall not process that part of the notified route between the junction of Woodvale Parade and Woodvale Road and the junction of Hesketh Road and Crumlin Road.

"The parade shall disperse no later than 7.30pm."

The north Belfast group the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) has said it has called off plans for a protest against the parade on 12 July.

Loyalists have maintained a continuous presence at a protest camp at the Woodvale/Ardoyne interface at Twaddell Avenue since last July.

A North South Ministerial Council meeting that was due to be held in Dublin on Friday was postponed following Thursday's developments.

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