Irish Republican News · August 13, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]

A reported plan by a Protestant marching group to circumvent a ruling against a coat-trailing parade in nationalist north Belfast has been stopped.

The Ligoniel Walker Club, part of the Apprentice Boys of Derry, had permission refused by the commission to walk past the enclave of Ardoyne.

A previous march by the Orange Order on July 12th descended into riots after a full march with supporters was forced through, contrary to a similar ruling.

The main march tomorrow by the Apprentice Boys is in Derry, to mark an ancient Protestant battle victory over the forces of Catholic King James.

With officials keen to prevent further disorder, the Parades Commission has declared that a plan by the marchers to take to the Ardoyne footpath as they walked through the contentious area is in violation of its ruling.

The Commission added that it would accept Apprentice Boys and bandsmen passing the Ardoyne shops on buses.

It has also hinted that the PSNI police will enforce its ruling, in contrast with the events of last month, when the PSNI failed to prevent followers of the march from provoking violence with residents.

Mr Tommy Cheevers, a spokesman for the Ligoniel marchers, claimed the new ruling was punitive and “blatantly political”. Nationalist parties gave a cautious welcome to the news.

However, Ardoyne residents expressed anger that they were unaware of the changes to the Parades Commission’s determination.

“The Parades Commission or loyal orders have not been in contact with residents,” said a spokesman.

“I am very concerned that changes were being made behind closed doors without residents knowing anything about it.”

Sinn Féin assembly member Gerry Kelly said it was a “sensible decision”.

“There was never an issue of the Apprentice Boys travelling on buses past Ardoyne en-route to Derry - it was a non-issue,” he said.

“The issue was that they weren’t allowed to march past Ardoyne shops is a coat-trailing exercise.”

  • The PSNI police has insisted that it is planning a small operation operation to maintain order for the main march. However, tensions have escalated in the city following serious rioting in the past week.

    Pitched battles in the Irish Street/ Gobnascale interface area have followed clashes around the Fountain estate, and again involved petrol bombs, stones, bottles and bricks.

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    © 2004 Irish Republican News