Commission defer Covenant march ruling

Published Wednesday, 19 September 2012
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The Parades Commission said it will defer its determination on the Ulster Covenant march following a "heartening" level of local contact.

Commission defer Covenant march ruling
Orange Lodges pass through Belfast during the Twelfth of July parades. (© Pacemaker)

Much discussion has been taking place as groups in Belfast try to reach an arrangement that would ease tensions ahead of the parade on 29 September.

It comes after trouble flared when the Royal Black Institution went past St Patrick's Church in Donegal Street at the end of last month.

This week the Orange Order said bands will only play hymns during that stretch - however Sinn Féin has called for its leaders to hold face-to-face talks with residents.

A statement from the Parades Commission said it will make its verdict on Monday.

"The Commission has been heartened by the level of local contact which has taken place so far in advance of the upcoming Ulster Covenant parade on 29 September," it said.

"In light of this and the prospect that there may be opportunity for further local contact, the Commission has decided to defer its determination on the parade for a number of days."

Controversy erupted when the loyalist Young Conway Volunteers flute band was filmed playing a contentious song outside the church on the Twelfth of July.

They were prohibited from marching past it in August, but defied the Parades Commission by doing so, while other bands also breached rulings by playing music.

Violent clashes ensued between protestors, however The Royal Black Institution has since apologised to the clergy at St Patrick's Church and Fr Michael Sheehan from the church said he appreciated the "Christian spirit" behind the move.

The decision of the Orange Order to only play hymns was announced in a statement which explained that "quiet, frank and constructive conversations" have taken place between clergy and parishioners to defuse tensions following the trouble at recent parades.

Local Unionist politicians have welcomed it as "constructive" and a "gesture of goodwill".

However, Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly said time is running out for the Orange Order to have direct face-to-face talks with the Carrickhill residents.

He said: "Conversations to resolve these issues must involve those who file for the parade, the Grand Lodge and those who file for the related protest, the Carrickhill Residents Association," adding: "Time is running out for a resolution".

© UTV News
Comments Comments
2 Comments
Paul in Belfast wrote (762 days ago):
Why do the Orange Order not want to talk to the residents? Do they think because they don't fall under the title of Parishioners that they must be Republican Terrorists? If not then why?
John in Co.armagh wrote (762 days ago):
Can anyone tell me who elected these people to represent the vast majority of the Carrick Hill residents, i am just curious was there background checks carried out by Gerry and the peacemakers to see if they had hardline republican backgrounds
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