Trouble 'not inevitable' after parade ban

Published Thursday, 03 July 2014
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Police have called for calm after the Parades Commission banned a return Twelfth Orange parade from passing the Ardoyne shop fronts in north Belfast.

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Speaking at the Policing Board following Thursday's ruling, Chief Constable George Hamilton said the PSNI will uphold the decision but added that violence "is not inevitable".

He went on: "Be reassured that PSNI have been planning for every eventuality in recent months.

"There is no doubt that significant challenges lie ahead, however I want to reiterate our approach will be to uphold the law, protect human rights, implement the Parades Commission determination and work with communities involved to help find solutions.

Violence and disorder in relation to the Twelfth is not inevitable - individuals have choices to make about how they conduct themselves

Chief Constable George Hamilton

"I would encourage all communities to continue to show the dignity and respect evident at recent parades and protests so that the remainder of this year's Parading Season passes off as peacefully as it has to date."

The Parades Commission determined that the outward route along the Crumlin Road will be permitted with restrictions on the morning of 12 July, as it happened last year.

But the watchdog's latest determination has again barred the return march past the interface which separates unionist and nationalist areas - a decision which the Orange Order has slammed as "preposterous".

The body ruled that the return parade "shall not process that part of the notified route between the junction of Woodvale Parade and Woodvale Road and the junction of Hesketh Road and Crumlin Road".

The Order said the commission's ban "underlines the increasing perception that its determinations are dictated by the threat of physical force opposition to our parades".

In reaching the determination, the Parades Commission said it considered the impact on community life and relations as well as the potential for public disorder and breaches of previous determinations.

In recent years the area has become a flashpoint for serious rioting.

Loyalist violence broke out after the parade was stopped from returning along the road last year, while a protest has been ongoing at the Twaddell camp over the 2013 decision.

The Commission determined that these potential impacts would be disproportionate to the significance of this parade processing the entirety of its notified route.

Parades Commission

On Thursday, the watchdog called for resources and structures to be put in place to assist local communities to address the issues impacting upon parading in the Crumlin Road area.

A spokesperson stated: "The issue of parading along the Crumlin Road has profound implications for communities coming out of conflict and requires resources and structures commensurate to the task.

"It is the Commission's view that while there have been efforts to address these issues they have been piecemeal and under resourced.

"The Commission recognises that this parade brings to the fore tensions beyond the actual procession, the arterial route that it processes and its six minute duration, but that these are outweighed by the symbolic and historic significance of this parade route at an interface area."

The statement added: "The Commission has received evidence that fractured community relations arise from past events which have occurred on this contested stretch of the Crumlin Road and which contribute to the sensitivity of the parade route."

Such reckless action comes despite the prolonged and genuine efforts by the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast, and primarily the Ligoniel lodges, to defuse tensions concerning Loyal Order parades in this part of the city over the past 12 months, including face-to-face discussions with nationalist residents.

Orange Order

A spokesperson for the Orange Order said: "There will quite rightly be indignation across the entire Unionist community at the latest restriction on our legitimate cultural expression and traditions; and therefore the Orange Institution will be meeting with our political leaders at the earliest opportunity to discuss further the ramifications of this decision."

The Order has appealed for calm following the ruling.

In the wake of the Parades Commission ruling, the latest round of Stormont talks aimed at resolving contentious issues have collapsed after unionists parties have walked out in anger.

A joint statement from UUP, DUP, TUV and PUP said the Parades Commission members have shown they "place no value on a relationship with unionism".

"This decision and its surrender to publicly issued republican threats is unacceptable and flies in the face of the democratically expressed wishes of the people of Northern Ireland who want to move forward on a basis where cultural expressions are undertaken with respect and met with tolerance," the statement said.

As a consequence of the ruling, the unionist leaders said they see no value in continuing contact with the parades watchdog.

There will be a graduated unionist response involving the Orange Institution, the PUL community and political unionism.

Unionist statement

They said that "political action with peaceful and lawful protests" will follow but appealed for "all those who are justifiably angry and frustrated to remain peaceful and calm".

Sinn Féin north Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly has welcomed the ruling.

"Since last year's Twelfth parade instead of the Orange Order and political unionism accepting the determination they created Camp Twaddell on an interface," he said.

"They continued to raise tension in the area through weekly parades.

"It should be no surprise to them therefore that having made the situation worse instead of better that the Parades Commission taken this decision."

Mr Kelly appealed for the watchdog's decision to be respected.

Those in positions of leadership must do all in their power to avoid doing anything to raise tensions so that we can ensure a peaceful outcome for the local community.

Gerry Kelly, Sinn Féin

UKIP NI leader David McNarry described the Parades Commission decision as "provocative" and called for the Secretary of State to reverse the decision.

"Understandably unionist anger is palpable it needs to be managed and controlled," the MLA said.

"This requires the highest standard of leadership by all with influence. Feelings of frustration and despair cannot be left in limbo. Violence is not the answer."

© UTV News
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89 Comments
Jos in Belfast wrote (139 days ago):
In Donegal the Orange marches are about tradition thats why there is no trouble. But in parts of NI the thugs rule the roost and they want conflict and to march especially in areas where they are not welcome to show their superiority.
thinkin out of the box in a brighter place wrote (139 days ago):
Would someone please explain what they mean by triumphalism,It cant be 1690 as Williams enemies were also royalists.It can't be Drumcree as it's simply a church parade nothing more.It may be years of violence and hate stirred up by paramilitaries and their political reps who have given communities false perceptions of each other and they do exploit it.It can't be Prods and Caths either as most get on fine with oo members and vice versa.The unionist community may see the same triumphalism on say garvaghy road or ardoyne as one section of an otherwise decent community who are set on causing problems for everyone else on both sides is constantly given the last word which the pc then claims is now law which denies people of the basic rights they would be entitled to in the rest of the uk,now if that is not triumphalism then what is?But before you answer not to me but more importantly to yourself consider this, even the Irish republic would do its best to uphold those rights despite threats of violence so what's your problem "really"?Wouldn't be blind bigotry by any chance?
Franco in Belfast wrote (139 days ago):
@ Gabriel Lappin, good point you've made, I am a protestant and unionist and i agree totally with you.
Equality in Belfast wrote (140 days ago):
Why can the Belfast lodges march and behave like they do in Donegal? It is a great day out for all of the community. I have been and seen first hand. The lodges here have to much of a triumphant attitude and the bands the use are some of the most bitter in their attitude towards catholics. Then if they dont get their own way they spit the dummy out instead of saying why is it not in our favour and what can be done so we can march. Look to the bretheren in Donegal and all could be solved.
john in Antrim wrote (140 days ago):
The Bookies wouldn't take bets on no trouble. It's a certainty. Robinson again calling mutton heads onto the street to protest 'peacefully'??? Yeah Dead on!
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