Irish Republican News · June 20, 2015
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Parade progress but loyalist threat continues
Parade progress but loyalist threat continues

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One of the first controversial sectarian parades of the summer passed off uneventfully on Friday night in north Belfast after loyalist bandsmen appeared to adhere to a Parades Commission determination.

All bands taking part in the annual Tour of the North parade appeared to comply with the ruling to only play a single drum beat along Donegall Street -- including past St Patrick’s Catholic Church, a frequent site for sectarian displays by bandsmen in recent years.

A planned residents’ protest against the parade was called off on Thursday, although some residents gathered at the top of Donegall Street to observe events.

A large sign on the side of a PSNI Land Rover warned participants they must stick to a single beat. Once past the sign, most of the bands burst into loud song with several shouts from bandsmen of “let it rip”.

Around 1,000 people and 13 bands took part in the parade.

Sinn Féin assembly member Gerry Kelly said he welcomed that the “Tour of the North has passed off peacefully and that the Parades Commission determination was respected”.

“I would like to thank the Carrick Hill Residents for their mature attitude and their decision not to protest tonight,” he said.

“I am convinced that the only way to resolve issues around parading is through genuine and inclusive dialogue with local communities.”

A last minute legal challenge to the parade conditions failed on Thursday. A lawyer for the anti-Catholic Orange Order had argued that the conditions imposed were “excessive and irrational”.

Hardline unionist MP Nigel Dodds of the DUP had also called on the Parades Commission to resign over the ruling.

LOYALIST THREAT

Earlier this week, loyalists pulled out of talks with PSNI aimed at ensuring a peaceful July, leading to fears that there could be unrest in the lead up to the Twelfth of July, the climax of the unionist marching season.

Orangemen have now said they will not take responsibility for helping to monitor interface parades at flashpoints, including north and east Belfast this year.

In Tigers Bay in north Belfast, loyalist paramilitary flags have returned to interface areas with the New Lodge following a reported change in UDA leadership there.

UDA gangs have also been painting road markings red, white and blue as well as erecting flags in interface areas ahead of the Twelfth. Nationalists in the area have been warned that a more hardline leadership, led by a number of prominent paramilitaries previously expelled from the UDA, is now in the ascendancy.

And there was trouble in the Glengormley area of Newtownabbey on Tuesday following the erection of an Orange arch there.

Nationalist residents had previously complained that the area had been saturated with loyalist paramilitary flags to deliberately raise tensions ahead of the Twelfth.

One resident said he contacted the PSNI who told him there was “nothing they could do” about flags along the Antrim line and on the mainly nationalist Hightown Road.

There were reports of hand-to-hand fighting between youths after the PSNI withdrew from the area following the erection of the arch, and one man was reported to have been stabbed.

© 2015 Irish Republican News