Shock at Ardoyne parade decision
There has been a furious response after a loyalist parade on ‘the Twelfth’ was given the go ahead to pass a highly contoversial north Belfast.
The Greater Ardoyne Residents Coalition has called for a mass demonstration at the interface next Monday [July 12] to protest against the Orange parade.
It is thought there could be a repeat of last year’s clashes after the triumphalist parade was forced through Ardoyne.
On Friday the Parades Commission ruled that organisers of the ‘feeder’ parade could pass Ardoyne both in the morning and evening.
The parades will pass to and from the main rally of the Protestant Orange Order to mark the victory of King William of Orange in 1690 over the forces of the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne.
The decision was a shock to Ardoyne residents after last month’s ‘Tour of the North’ parade was rerouted away from the interface and the event passed off peacefully.
GARC spokesman Martin Meehan called for “opponents of sectarian marches from near and far to come to Ardoyne and stand shoulder to shoulder in a peaceful and dignified protest with local residents”.
Last year rioting continued for three days following the Orange Order march, with reports of live rounds being fired.
“The discredited Parades Commission has once again kicked the Ardoyne community in the face,” Mr Meehan said.
“History has proven these marches inevitably lead to unwanted violence. It is evident dialogue with the Parades Commission offers our community nothing but repeated sectarian marches through Ardoyne.
“We respect the Protestant religion and culture and we support the right of all groups to parade in a peaceful manner as long as they adhere to the rights of others and march only where they are welcome.
“It is our intention that the people of greater Ardoyne are left in peace and that loyalist marches are rerouted away from our district.”
SOLP assembly member Alban Maginness described the decision as “disastrous”.
“This is an utterly mad decision. The evening march is a nightmare for everyone, particularly for the police,” he said.
Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly described the decision as “deeply disappointing”.
“The decision to ban the Tour of the North feeder parade passed Ardoyne last month led to the most peaceful parade we’d seen in years,” he said.
“Residents will be particularly angry that march organisers refused to engage in dialogue but are rewarded with this unwanted march.”
However, the annual Orange Order confrontation in Portadown passed off peacefully on Sunday, although Orangemen insisted they would continue their attempts to hold a sectarian march through the nationalist part of the town.
It is the twelfth year running that the triumphalist parade by the Protestant marching order has been rerouted away from the Garvaghy Road.
Several hundred Orangemen and women gathered on the hill at Drumcree Parish Church as Orange district master Darryl Hewitt vowed that the ‘battle’ would go on.
Following a prayer service and a rendition of the British national anthem the Orangemen proceeded back up the hill.
Speaking alter the event Mr Hewitt launched a scathing attack on the Parades Commission and the nationalist residents of the Garvaghy Road.
He also said that Portadown Orangemen were hopeful that a new legislation to oversee parades might allow parades to be forced down the road once more.
Meanwhile, nationalist residents of Newtownbutler in County Fermanagh demonstrated against an unwanted sectarian parade on Friday night.
While there was some verbal exchanges between marchers and natIonalist protesters the parade passed peacefully. Nationalist protesters played music with some also using the South African ‘vuvuzela’ horns.
Conditions had been placed on the nationalist protest by the Parades Commission, while the PSNI managed to prevented some from attending the protest.
In Coleraine, another Orange Order parade which was rerouted a way from the spot where Catholic man Kevin McDaid was killed by a loyalist mob also passed off peacefully.
A loyalist bonfire at the entrance to Belfast City Hospital is being built again this year despite repeated protests.
It is one of several across the North which are synonymous with drunken terror and destruction on the ‘Eleventh Night’, the eve of the Twelfth.
Incredibly this time the structure, which last year collapsed onto the Donegall Road closing it to traffic, is both illegal and is being subsidised by the British government.
Although accepting grant aid, loyalist organisers refused to move the bonfire, despite agreeing to do so. The PSNI have refused requests to remove the structure.