Judge dismisses Ardoyne legal bid

Published Friday, 11 July 2014
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A High Court judge has dismissed an eleventh hour legal challenge to restrictions imposed on a bitterly disputed Orange Order march in north Belfast.

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A member of the public sought the judicial review after the Parades Commission placed restrictions on the return leg of the contentious parade past an interface at the Ardoyne shops.

Last year, the same prohibition resulted in sustained rioting, with scores of police officers injured.

On Friday, Mr Justice Weir refused the legal bid by a woman who was granted anonymity, insisting only political leadership will end the parading impasse.

The woman's lawyers, in making her case, had claimed it was irrational to let the outward parade go ahead in the morning and stop the evening return.

"The Orange Order cannot be held responsible for the disorder which erupted, the fault for which lay with parties it has no control over," a barrister argued.

If a fraction of the energy that is put into litigating these matters or going on the television or radio to talk about them was put into sitting down with clean sheets of paper and nice sharp pencils, I think we would get to the terminus much quicker.

Mr Justice Weir

The woman claimed the 2013 determination created a legitimate expectation that the Commission would look favourably on this year's application if there was genuine dialogue with residents.

Mr Justice Weir rejected claims that the Commission had acted unreasonably, holding that the distinction between the morning march and an evening march scarred by trouble over the last three years was entirely justified.

He also concluded there was nothing to back allegations that the organisers were being punished.

And dismissing the final argument, the judge said: "Given the lack of concrete progress, no-one could have legitimately expected that circumstances had sufficiently changed for the better in the intervening period to warrant the giving of permission for a parade over the contentious area."

PUP Leader Cllr Billy Hutchinson had earlier said that he welcomed the testing of the watchdog's determination before the courts.

Meanwhile, at Belfast City Hall on Friday afternoon, Belfast Deputy Grand Master Spencer Beattie revealed details of the Orange Order's protest action against the Ardoyne ruling.

Please obey the requests of the marshals when asked and disperse promptly when the protest is over.

 Belfast Deputy Grand Master Spencer Beattie

The Ligoniel Lodges will lead the Belfast parade on Saturday and, during the return parade in north Belfast, the lodges and bands will stop at a line of marshals on the Woodvale Road - which marks the point they cannot proceed past.

Bands will play at this location and a statement will be made before those assembled march to West Belfast Orange Hall and disperse.

Up to 50 protest parades are planned by the Orange Order across Northern Ireland on the Twelfth evening, in response to the Parades Commission ruling on Ardoyne.

A lack of effective marshalling last year was identified as one of the factors that led to violence flaring.

The total bill for policing parades and flags disputes in Northern Ireland over the last 20 months stands at around £55m.

Police and Orangemen have expressed cautious optimism that the Twelfth of July loyal order commemorations in Belfast will pass off without a repeat of the serious violence that has marred the event in recent years.

A token number of people will also be at the protest camp at Twaddell throughout the Twelfth.

"For the last 12 months, there have been peaceful and effective protests nightly at Twaddell and weekly on the Woodvale Road - one stone thrown would undermine the commitment and dedication of the many thousands who have supported our cause," Mr Beattie stated.

"I would repeat again that our response to republican agitation and the threat of violence must be lawful and peaceful. If anyone is intent on causing trouble you will not be welcome at any of our protests."

Our approach is not a short-term reaction where young people get a criminal record - rather it will play out as part of a long-term strategy.

First Minister Peter Robinson

First Minister Peter Robinson has also urged everyone "to express their views in a dignified, peaceful and lawful manner".

The DUP leader added: "Whilst many within the community strongly disagree with determinations of the Parades Commission, it is vital that no section of the community allows itself to be drawn into a violent reaction or confrontation."

The Press Association says there will be 3,500 officers deployed across Northern Ireland, almost a third of whom will be in north Belfast.

Last year, the PSNI operation was supported by 630 mutual aid officers travelling from forces in England, Scotland and Wales. No additional manpower has been ordered this year.

© UTV News
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19 Comments
intreauged in belfast wrote (100 days ago):
lauren im sorry did you say theres no threat in ardoyne if thats the case who has been shooting and caught with bombs from ardoyne in the last year if its not so called dissidents ???
Derry in Belfast wrote (100 days ago):
I wonder how the OO & their loyal supporters react when an Ardoyne resident applies for & receives legal aid to lodge an injunction to prevent the yearly sectarianism & hatred known as parading in the local area & succeeds in their application. Sure if it's good for one it's good for the other!
Lauren in Belfast wrote (100 days ago):
To paul in co.down wind your neck in there is no dissident threat the good people in Ardoyne have been listening to the oo c--p at the top of twaddle every night for the past year the road gets closed for an hour so loyalists can spue their sectarian hatred the people of Ardoyne just give them a wee wave and walk on.
titterofwit in Belfast wrote (100 days ago):
The OO don't pursue these things because it would cost them money .The trick is to get some punter ( living on their Giro probably ) to get legal aid and let the public pay the barristers costs .It's a shameful way ofsquandering our taxes .
paul in co down wrote (100 days ago):
yet again the dissident threat of violence decides the rule of law-the offended have to travel up to the shop fronts to even get a glimpse of men women and children walking home-how long before enough is enough?
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