Why not just let them march?
Why don't they just let them march? is the question asked by many
political and church leaders when it comes to the issue of
contentious parades. Why not indeed! Maybe the experience of
residents living in the County Tyrone town of Newtownstewart on
Friday evening 2 May will help these people understand some of
the reasons why sectarian parades aren't welcome in nationalist
Crowds of men were drinking, urinating and vomiting against walls
and chanting sectarian slogans as they milled around waiting for
members of the 26 bands that travelled into the West Tyrone
village for the band parade to form up.
The RUC closed the main road linking Omagh to Derry from 7
o'clock and townspeople were forced to make diversions as they
went about their business. Then at around 9 o'clock the
Orangemen, led by the Newtownstewart Red Hand Defenders marched
off. They marched through the town, not to a church service but
to the Nationalist area of Mourneview in an act of pure
triumphalism. They played their drums and flutes, stopping only
to attack property and hurl sectarian abuse at residents.
Derg Sinn Fein representative Charlie McHugh said, ``many local
people have complained to me about this disgraceful situation.
They were terrorised on Friday evening and I appeal to the local
Orange Order to help solve this issue''.
Meanwhile in Belfast the RUC have been forced to reroute another
contentious parade on the Ormeau Road. The loyalist group Ormeau
Residents Demand Equal Rights (ORDER), which is led by UDP member
Pauline Gilmore, proposed that 15 bands and 2000 marchers parade
onto the nationalist Lower Ormeau Road on Saturday 10 May. Local
people have described the proposed parade as a way of heightening
tensions and of pressurising the RUC into allowing the Orange
Order to march down the nationalist area on 12 July.
Lower Ormeau Concerned Community (LOCC) said they were relieved
at the decision to reroute the parade and have called on new NIO
boss Mo Mowlam to announce that no parades will be allowed along
the Lower Ormeau this year.