Parades body delays Covenant ruling

Published Tuesday, 25 September 2012
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The Parades Commission says it will not issue its determination on the Ulster Covenant Centenary parade on Tuesday evening, as previously expected, after a series of meeting with politicians and police chiefs.

Parades body delays Covenant ruling
Mike Nesbitt and Peter Robinson at the Parades Commission (© Pacemaker)

Earlier First Minister Peter Robinson and UUP leader Mike Nesbitt appealed for the whole community to demonstrate respect for one another following a joint meeting with the watchdog.

Tens of thousands of Orangemen and their supporters are expected in the city on Saturday for a special march to Stormont to mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant.

Mr Robinson and Mr Nesbitt called for only those who are involved in the Parade passing St Patrick's Church to be there on Saturday.

"As only a small section of the main parade is due to pass St Patrick's Church, we would encourage the many thousands who will want to watch the main parade to do so at vantage points at the City Hall and along the main parade route," they said.

It comes after the Orange Order said it will only play hymns when passing the church on Donegall Street, where disorder broke out last month.

On 12 July members of a loyalist band were filmed marching in circles and playing a tune alleged to be sectarian outside the church.

Mr Robinson and Mr Nesbitt said they welcomed the significant steps taken by the Orange institution ahead of Saturday's parade, adding it was "regrettable" that any determination on the Ulster Covenant parade should be made.

They said "no sensible person could object to the playing of hymn music on Saturday".

Only those who are involved in the parade passing St Patrick's Church need be in that particular vicinity.

Peter Robinson & Mike Nesbitt

The two unionist leaders stressed that the weekend's events have a "very special and cherished significance for unionists across the Province and beyond".

"Whilst we fully recognise that not everyone in Northern Ireland will embrace the celebrations, we would appeal to the whole community to demonstrate respect for one another and for the differences in culture and identity," they said.

Mr Robinson and Mr Nesbitt appealed to those involved in the celebrations to act in a way that brings "dignity and honour" to Northern Ireland.

They also called for those who are intending to protest against the parade to behave in a "dignified, lawful and responsible manner".

"Just as the Orange Order is responsible for the conduct of the parade, so too are the Carrick Hill protest organisers responsible for the conduct of all those on protest. Given that there are only a few hundred who live in the area, we would not expect to see more protestors on Saturday than there are residents in Carrick Hill," the statement read.

They said the Orange Order "fulfilled their commitment" to engage with Fr Michael Sheehan from St Patrick's Church.

They said the Chair of the Carrick Hill Residents' Group had refused to join talks alongside the clergy and parishioners to engage with the Orange Order on two occasions.

Sinn Féin has called for the Loyal Orders to be involved in direct dialogue with the north Belfast residents group.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who also met with the Parades Commission on Tuesday, said: "It is hugely disappointing that the Orange Order who are organising the parade continue to choose to disrespect the residents of Carrickhill by refusing to enter into dialogue with them. Going forward this is a completely untenable situation and one which needs to change.

"Now is the time for political leaders to step forward and show leadership to ensure Saturday goes off peacefully. Now is not the time of intemperate or inflammatory language."

© UTV News
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12 Comments
Harry Merrick in Killinchy wrote (701 days ago):
How very pretencious and superior of our American friends to comment in such a judgemental and sanctimonios manner. Pity they haven't a clue, especially when one sees the goings on within the US.
David in USA wrote (701 days ago):
Raymond. It would be nice if you didn't give away what side of the fence you kick on. How about taking down fences and barriers? Obviously you didnt read my first post. Loyalist and republican marchers do not like each others parades, so why allow them to pass through each others communities? A blind man could see that these parades cause trouble. It has for years. I guess bonfires must be a great way of bringing communities together too? People cannot complain about wanting to march when all parades do is cause trouble. Why do people not march in their own areas?..or does that mean they would have to actually make friends with their neighbours?
David in USA wrote (701 days ago):
Wouldn't it be nice if there was no parades, or flags and no reason to upset a neighbouring community? ... or does that make too much sense to people? After years of looking back at the destruction of communities through bricks,stones, bottles,gunfire,hospitilization and the cost of cleaning up and law enforcement, why is this still an issue? It is 2012, not 1690 or 1981. People will continue to cause trouble if the law allows means for them to do so. Parades are not a way forward and the word "tradition" is used as an excuse to exercise an opinion,triumphantism or sectarianism in the face of others who do not want to take part. Intimidation on either side through flags or parades is not the way forward. How do we solve it? End it for it serves no purpose,..unless someone can clearly show the good it has done to both sections of the community, and we know the answer to that one.
Acknow in Phi;adelphia PA wrote (702 days ago):
Dignity and honour went down the toilet on this street when loyalist bands went walking in circles outside St Patricks church. Dignity and honour went down the toilet when the orange order refused to meet the residence of Carrick hill.Like those who say they have the right to march when and where they want to the people who get imfringed upon have the right also to PROTEST.
linda in belfast wrote (702 days ago):
its a pity that peter robinson and mike nesbitt werent so quick to try and ease tenisions after the cyv antics on the 12th and the law breaking that occurred on the 25th not a word from either of them....the silence was deafing.now theyre tripping over each other to call for calm because they all want to march AGAIN
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