Northern Ireland

Parades Commission places more restrictions on Tour of the North

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Media captionNew restrictions have been placed on the annual north Belfast parade, as Ciara Riddell reports

The Parades Commission has applied more stringent restrictions to next week's Orange Order Tour of the North parade than in previous years.

As with last year's parade, only the Orangemen and their 13 notified bands can march past St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street in north Belfast.

They must do so to the sound of a single drum beat.

This year all music must stop 43 metres away from the church so there is no music within earshot of it.

A planned residents' protest has also been restricted to a maximum of 50 people at two locations.

'Bureaucratic monstrosity'

The Orange Order has said it is appalled by the determination.

"The commission is now simply a mouthpiece for republican propaganda, allowing them to dictate the terms of when, how and where loyal order parades are held," it said.

"The invented new criteria of banning music within 'earshot' of a place of worship not in use, is as mischievous as it is absurd, and clearly put in place to further censor Protestant heritage on the supposed shared streets of Northern Ireland's capital city."

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, of the DUP, said: "The latest determination by the Parades Commission on Donegall Street demonstrates that this is a bureaucratic monstrosity that has lost the run of itself, simply dances to the tune of republican residents, or a dangerous combination of both.

"It is clear from the document that the Parades Commission gave serious consideration to banning music being played outside Clifton Street Orange hall. I wish that statement was a joke but it is not."

However, SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness welcomed the determination.

"This determination by the Parades Commission is sensible and I would hope that it sets the tone for this year's marching season," he said.

"At every stage of this dispute all that the parishioners of St Patrick's and the residents of Carrick Hill have asked for is to be treated with respect."

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