Whiterock parade passes off peacefully

Whiterock parade passes off peacefully

A controversial Orange Order parade has passed off peacefully in west Belfast.

Two protests were held in the Springfield Road area as the march passed by on Saturday.

A large police operation was in place in the area for the annual parade.

Sixteen bands and 900 participants were expected to attend the event.

The Orange Order received permission to proceed through a nationalist part of the Springfield Road - albeit with tight restrictions placed on them by the Parades Commission.

A 200 strong group from the Springfield Road Residents' Group gathered to protest against the march.

The parades watchdog also granted permission for a small group of ten loyalists to protest against the restrictions imposed.

Tensions had been heightened in recent weeks amid concerns that hardline republican protesters would try and physically block the parade.

However, the parade passed off without major incident.

This is a strong indicator as to how such events can pass off.

Chief Superintendent George Clarke

In a statement released on Saturday evening, the PSNI confirmed that their operation at the annual Whiterock parade was "significant".

Chief Superintendent George Clarke, District Commander of North and West Belfast, said that he had been encouraged by the dignity and responsible behaviour of all those who took part.

"There are a number of potential breaches of the Parade Commission's determination which we will be investigating in due course," he said.

"Despite this, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the vast majority of those involved in the parade, including paraders and marshals, protesters and organisers, local MLAs, and community representatives for their efforts in contributing to today's events," he added.

DUP North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds congratulated the Orange Order on what he described as a dignified and enjoyable parade.

"There was the customary large turn-out of lodges and bands and a tremendous level of public support with thousands lining the route to enjoy the parade through the Greater Shankill area.

"Despite the presence of republican protestors, the parade processed peacefully and without incident along the Springfield Road where the bands played hymns," he added.

"I commend the Orange brethren and sisters and the bands on parade which all together made a marvellous spectacle and a wonderful cultural demonstration."

Pat Sheehan, Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast, told UTV that he was pleased the parade was peaceful.

"However, this can't continue year after year after year. It's time for the Parades Commission to grasp the nettle and resolve this issue that happens every year for once and for all."


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