Unionists have warned of a potential deterioration in relations following a decision to reroute a unionist parade away from the Springfield Road on Saturday.
The Parades Commission, which oversees parades viewed as contentious or sectarian, has ruled that the Protestant Orange Order parade on the Whiterock Road cannot proceed through the republican area in west Belfast.
DUP leader Ian Paisley called the decision “disastrous and unacceptable” and said it could heighten tensions.
Speaking on Monday, he said: “Anything could happen on Saturday.”
“The Protestant people and the Orangemen are rightly outraged, the only way we can translate that outrage to the prime minister is to have a meeting with him.
“We are not threatening violence, we are asking for our rights”.
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble called on the British Direct Ruler to put pressure on the Parades Commission to reverse its decision.
“If this latest decision is anything to go by, the situation as we approach July’s traditional celebrations looks serious and dangerous with the potential to knock back the fragile inter-community relations that have been built up over recent years by our elected representatives and other individuals on the ground,” he said.
Springfield Road residents have insisted that the Orange Order was the only group refusing to engage in dialogue.
“David Trimble says that banning the Whiterock Parade is threatening good community relations but it is the Orange Order’s refusal to talk with nationalists which is stopping a resolution,” spokesman Sean Murray said.
“The only way of ensuring a peaceful summer is through talks.
“Mr Trimble would do better to persuade Orangemen to engage with nationalists rather than making comments which only cause to further increase community tensions.”
Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly appealed to people on all sides to ensure that this weekend’s re-routed Orange Parade in West Belfast passes off without incident.
He welcomed the decision in view of the “wholesale” breaches by the Orange order of previous determinations by the Parades Commission.
“I also believe that much of the commentary made by unionist political representatives in the days since the decision was taken will not benefit efforts to ensure that the march passes off peacefully, and is in contrast to earlier statements from prominent unionist politicians committing themselves to working for a peaceful summer in the city.
“The nationalist community living on the Springfield Road want simply to be allowed to get on with their lives without massive disruption from a PSNI operation or from an unwanted parade being forced through their area.
“I would appeal to people on all sides to ensure that every effort is made in the coming days and on Saturday itself to ensure that community tensions are not raised further and that the day passes off peacefully.”
Meanwhile, the Portadown Orange Order has held separate talks with the Parades Commission and the Irish government over the annual Drucmree march, according to unconfirmed reports.
The order has repeatedly refused to meet with the Parades Commission since 1997, but has not confirmed or denied the reports.
And a peaceful protest marked the erection of an Orange Order ‘arch’ over the main road in the predominately nationalist village of Glengormley, north of Belfast, last night.
The Orange lodge’s decision to erect the arch in the village has beeen a contentious decision for the last six years and has again raised tensions in the area.