Police praise peaceful Twelfth protests

Published Sunday, 13 July 2014
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Chief Constable George Hamilton has praised the "responsible leadership" of the Orange Order and other groups following a largely peaceful Twelfth of July.

Demonstrations were staged at all 17 parades across Northern Ireland on Saturday in opposition to a Parades Commission ruling which banned Orangemen from completing their return route past the contentious Ardoyne shop fronts in north Belfast.

Marchers stopped for six minutes to highlight what they described as "six minutes of intolerance" against the Ligioniel lodges.

In north Belfast, supporters cheered and sang and bands played music ahead of a statement being read on the Woodvale Road - and again after it, before three lodges paraded to the West Belfast Orange Hall where they dispersed.

Around 3,500 officers were deployed across Northern Ireland on Saturday, with almost a third of them in north Belfast, but the day passed off largely peacefully.

Chief Constable George Hamilton, who was appointed earlier this year, said: "I am pleased that today's Twelfth parades have passed off largely successfully and that those taking part were able to enjoy their day.

"This has been due to a number of factors, including responsible leadership from a range of groups such as the Orange Order.

I welcome the repeated pleas from the Orange Order and politicians from all sides for all parades and protests to be peaceful and lawful.

George Hamilton

"Our focus, as I have said since my appointment, is on keeping communities safe and our job has been made immensely easier by the responsible attitude by all parties concerned.

"We have had a quiet and peaceful parading season up to and including today and I hope that this continues for the rest of the summer.

"I hope that people continue to take responsibility for their own actions and they need to understand that, as I've said throughout the past couple of weeks, the police will do our piece to keep people safe and also to collect evidence where people step outside of the law."

Edward Stevenson, Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, said a "united and determined" resolve has been shown against the Parades Commission ruling.

He continued: "The day's events once again highlighted the organisational ability of the Institution, which has been publicly acknowledged by the Chief Constable.

"Amid the pageant of colour and music, and carnival atmosphere, there was also a united and determined resolve as the Orange and Unionist family peacefully demonstrated against the shambolic Parades Commission, and the ongoing demonisation by republicans of our parading traditions and expressions of British identity.

"I am glad all passed off peacefully and without incident.

I would commend all those involved from local lodges to senior officers, and in particular District Masters, who ensured the biggest day in the parading calendar lived up to its glorious billing.

Edward Stevenson

"I would also pay tribute to the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast and three Ligoniel lodges for the responsible leadership and action they took in managing their evening protest and defusing tensions on the Woodvale Road; despite being yet again denied their civil and religious liberties."

Justice Minister David Ford praised the efforts of "many people across the community".

The Alliance minister continued: "The professionalism shown by PSNI officers has delivered a day of peaceful parades right across Northern Ireland and I congratulate all involved.

"This year we have shown how cool heads and careful words helped to keep the situation calm and I would hope that approach continues so we can work towards resolution of all contentious parades."

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said it is important to build on the work that has been done.

She continued: "The Chief Constable and the PSNI displayed great professionalism throughout in keeping people safe and secure.

"They have my sincere thanks for all that they do. As ever we are indebted to them.

"It is important that we build on this, by continuing to work for locally agreed solutions to contentious parades. This Government will continue to do all we can to encourage a way forward."

A spokesman for the Parades Commission said: "The work which takes place at grassroots level by parade and protest organisers and local politicians is challenging but invaluable.

"Reducing tension and instances of public disorder is an encouraging backdrop against which to address outstanding parading issues through sincere, meaningful and sustained dialogue."

© UTV News
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37 Comments
Observer in Online wrote (157 days ago):
Pol in Belfast - what have bonfires got to do with the Orange Order? The OO have said bonfires are nothing to do with them and should be respectful in numerous media statements, do you live in a cave?
Joe in Co Down wrote (158 days ago):
Praise for non violence whats the world coming too. I suppose after last years debacle in Belfast the world's media thought these men in suits and hats were something from another planet.
Snowy in Ardoyne. Ireland wrote (158 days ago):
Do you people not know what the word "NO" mean's I find it funny as you lot were saying it for year's. Now that the shoe is on the other foot you's don't like it. Go home and stop making fool's of yourselves idiot's
John in Newtownabbey wrote (158 days ago):
Peaceful it was thank goodness but lawful it wasn't. Let's see what action is taken over the flagrant breaches of the determinations in Donegal Street.
John in Co.Armagh wrote (158 days ago):
My word some people will be none to pleased at the Chief Constable along with the Secretary of State heaping praise on the Orange Order and supporters for ensuring all parades passed of peacefully and in a dignified manner, well done to all concerned.
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