Irish Republican News · July 9, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]

The Protestant Orange Order is mobilising its members to ensure an anti-Catholic parade, complete with ‘kick-the-Pope’ bands and hangers-on, is forced through a nationalist interface on Monday.

The Orange Order has refused to reveal details of its exact plans after a Parades Commission’s decision to place restrictions on march through the Ardoyne area of North Belfast.

The march passes the Ardoyne shops interface where Orange Order supporters and local Catholic residents clashed last year.

The Parades Commission has ruled that only members of the relevant Ligoniel Lodge and notified marshals can march past the shops on the return route, and that no music should be played.

In a statement released after an emergency meeting of Belfast’s Orange Order leaders last night, it said it has “put in place plans that will enable the whole county to support the Ligoniel brethren, bands and supporters as they seek to complete their journey home”.

Supporters of the unionist paramilitary UDA blockaded the Ligoniel Road in north Belfast yesterday for the second evening in a row.

A spokeswoman for the Orange Order said details of the Order’s actions around the city would be revealed on Monday and a number of Orange leaders would protest on the route of the Ligonel march.

Tension is growing over the Orangemen’s plans, which nationalists view as a blackmail threat. It is thought that street blockades and checkpoints, already set up by unionist paramilitaries in Ligoniel, could multiply.

Sinn Féin has reacted angrily to the statement from the Orange Order. North Belfast Sinn Féin councillor Mr Eoin O’Broin said he fears “the order is putting in place a plan in conjunction with unionist paramilitaries to try and force the Parades Commission’s hand.

“This morning’s statement from the Orange Order is clearly threatening and comes in the wake of UDA organised blockades of Ligonel over the past two nights. The Orange Order in Belfast are clearly intent on heightening tensions at a time when many other groups are working tirelessly within interface communities in this city in order to secure a peaceful summer,” he said.


Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly, has slammed the comments by the PSNI Chief Constable, Hugh Orde regarding a rampage by Orange Order supporters through the Mater Hospital following the ‘Tour of the North’ parade in the same area last month.

On Wednesday, Orde said reports of a riot at the hospital on June 18 were inaccurate. He claimed a large number of people were “milling about... I think they were trying to use the toilets”.

“I have seen disorderly crowds - that was not my interpretation of a disorderly crowd,” he said, referring to silent video footage of the incident.

Staff had said they were left terrified by a mob shouting sectarian abuse, and a number of golf balls had been thrown. Security staff were required to lock patients into their wards for their own safety.

Speaking today Mr Kelly said: Hugh Orde’s comments “come as no surprise”.

We are now very use to him using the policing board for politically charged comments. This latest statement is as good as legitimising what happened in the Mater Hospital following the Tour of the North.

“I would be interested in knowing what Mr Orde considers to be a riot. It is not good enough for him that over 40 youths went on the rampage within the hospital, a larger crowd outside tried to force their way in, while both staff and patients had to be locked into wards for their own safety.

“What is clear is that Hugh Orde seems to be on his own in this opinion. Representatives of all shades have spoken out and called this rampage for what it was.”

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© 2004 Irish Republican News