Ardoyne Covenant parade withdrawn

Published Friday, 07 September 2012
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The withdrawal of an application to stage a feeder parade past the Ardoyne shops prior to an Ulster Covenant commemoration march has been welcomed by nationalist residents and politicians.

Ardoyne Covenant parade withdrawn
Rioters at Ardoyne after the Twelfth of July parades. (© Pacemaker)

Tens of thousands of Orangemen and their supporters are expected in Belfast later this month for a special march to Stormont to mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant.

Hopes are high that the major parade will pass off without incident when it takes place on 29 September as talks between police, community leaders, Loyal Orders, politicians and church representatives continue in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the violence witnessed in north Belfast earlier this week.

The disorder began prior to a Republican march passing through the area on Sunday.

In what is being hailed as a game changer, the Royal Black Institution issued an unprecedented apology on Thursday for defying a Parades Commission ruling outside St Patrick's Church in Donegall Street last month.

The ban was imposed after a loyalist band played a song alleged to be sectarian outside the same church on the Twelfth of July.

Millar Farr, the Sovereign Grand Master of the institution, said in an open letter that "the sense of injustice and hurt felt by the members of the Royal Black Institution" was focused on the Parades Commission - not St Patrick's Church.

"Parading is embedded in the DNA of the Protestant community but the Parades Commission has shown an appalling lack of understanding about what that means," he said.

The resolution process was given another boost on Friday when the Grand Lodge of Ireland released a statement saying it "fully supports the sentiments expressed" in the apology.

We are genuinely committed in finding a just and equitable resolution to these matters.

Orange Order

Discussing the centenary march, the Orange Order said: "This landmark occasion allows a unique opportunity to commemorate one of the most momentous and cultural events in the history of these islands, and as we move into a period involving a number of significant centenaries it is essential that we celebrate our different cultures in an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect.

North Belfast Sinn Féin Councillor Conor Maskey has welcomed the decision by the Loyal Orders to withdraw.

"It is difficult to understand the type of mindset that thought this was a good idea in the first place especially considering the current climate around contentious Loyal Order parades.

"The application was unnecessary and unhelpful as we attempt to lower tensions around the 29th September march and come to a resolution agreeable to all."

He said the application should never have been made.

Nichola Mallon, SDLP Councillor for the area, has described it as "a positive move."

She said the decision adds to "the space for reflection and discussion created by the Royal Black Institution's apology."

"We are in a better environment to that which we inhabited even a week ago and there is the possibility, with direct meaningful local engagement, to create the room needed to establish a lasting mood of respect and community confidence.

"The leadership and dignity shown by the Carrickhill Residents, combined with the response of the Loyal Orders in recent days have the potential to redefine the issue of contentious parades and move towards a solid grounding in mutual respect."

Joe Marley, of nationalist residents group CARA, told UTV the about turn sat alongside other efforts being made to diffuse tensions.

He said Loyal Orders now need to engage in direct talks with local residents to "finding a lasting resolution" to the issue.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
37 Comments
Danny in Ulster wrote (806 days ago):
@Road Tax Payer - where did I say that nothing should be done and to leave it alone? I said people who understand nothing about parades suggesting that they have them in private venues is frankly ridiculous. Also, all people have certain rights, one of which is to march on the road, whether you like it or not, that is the law!! If you want to change it go and speak to the Euopean Court of Human Rights. Therefore those people simply saying "ban all parades" are naive as it cannot be done. Nowhere did i suggest that there should not be discussion and agreement between both sides. What is your magical solution?
Road Tax Payer in Real World wrote (808 days ago):
@ Danny... "hilarious"... sounds as if you would enjoy parades in private venues. This silly attitude you have that nothing can be done so just leave it alone is naive and childish. Even the Orange and Black orders now realise that compromise is required. Grow up!!!
Danny in Ulster wrote (808 days ago):
@Loraine Cassidy in Canada - why don't you come over to Northern Ireland for the next big parade and you can stand at the front with your hand up and tell them all they are banned and to go home? lol Some people really make me laugh with their naive comments, or would you have the police try to stop all parades and face more riots? The picture in my mind of a parade going round and round in circles in a stadium or "private venue" is hilarious!!! While you are at it, don't forget to ban St Patricks day, The Lord Mayors, Rememberance Day, and Gay Pride parades too... :)
Mouncey in North Belfast wrote (809 days ago):
It never ceases to amaze me the neanderthal, knuckle dragging comments of some of the posters on this forum. All the nonsensical talk of surrender and giving in to the big bad Republicans. I've just returned from holiday and it seriously dissapoints when issues like silly parades are more important than employment, housing or projecting this place in a positive light to the rest of the World.
Nick Kent in Belfast wrote (809 days ago):
@ Jimmy in Stranraer. Tax paying British loyalists have no more of a right to walk where they want than tax paying British motorists have a right to drive where they want. Liz, ethnic cleansing? Go and look up the meaning of hyperbole and then contrast the 0.05% of contested loyalist marches against what happened in Bosnia in the early '90's and get back to me. While you're at it could you tell me what these 'concessions' are and how you equate the actions of the loyalist orders with that of 'Protestant', (the vast majority of whom have nothing to do with these loyalist orders?) Having said that, this withdrawel should be welcomed and credit given where it is due.
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