Peaceful Springfield Road parade
Peaceful Springfield Road parade

Residents on Belfasts nationalist Springfield Road allowed a small sectarian parade by the Protestant Orange Order to pass through the area on Saturday.

After mounting a small roadside protest, residents hit out at the Parades Commission who they said had caved in to loyalist pressure following heavy unionist rioting last September.

Spokesperson for the Orange Order, Steven Chambers, said that marchers were very pleased at the outcome.

Were delighted,” he said. “Its the first step on a long road to recognition of Protestant cultural rights.”

The parade saw 50 marchers from Whiterock Loyal Orange Lodge, break away from the main grouping to march 300 yards through the Springfield Road. Local residents staged a silent, peaceful protest -- but were confined, by a Parades Commission ruling, to standing along just 100 metres of the road and not the full length.

The protest was organised and marshalled by prominent local republicans.

There were no repeats of the scenes from last years parade, which erupted into an orgy of violence as loyalists launched gun and pipe bomb attacks.

Sen Murray, chair of Springfield Residents Group, said there was anger in the community following at the Parades Commissions decision to let the sectarian parade onto the Springfield Road.

We had a quiet and dignified protest but we were confined to just 100 metres, said Mr Murray. You had the ridiculous situation of the Parades Commission facilitating a loyalist march up the nationalist Springfield Road but refusing to facilitate a nationalist protest the full length of the road.

As far as were concerned, the Parades Commission have shown themselves to have no credibility and worse, no integrity.

This was a very dignified and strong protest which we hope sent out a powerful message, said Mr Murray.

With nationalist groups continuing to concede limited access to sectarian loyalisst groups to march through interfaces and along contentious areas, speculation is mounting over the route of the highly contentious Drumcree march through the Garvaghy Road in Portadown early next month.

The height of the marching season then looms on the twelfth of July, when among dozens of contentious marches, two are planned to again pass through the Springfield Road.

Sinn Féin councillor Tom Hartley accused the controversy-plagued Parades Commission, which rules on the routes of contentious parades, of treating nationalists as second-class citizens.

The Parades Commission know the historical reasons why Orangemen want marches through nationalist areas, he said.

Yet they still pushed it through Springfield Road.

They want to march through these areas to remind residents that they are second-class citizens and that they have no political rights.

It is a despicable situation and it needs to be resolved.

The Parades Commission needs to address the issue at the heart of this matter.

It should not think that allowing reduced parades through nationalist areas, without community agreement, is a solution.

Sinn Fin President, Gerry Adams, who is also the local MP, praised the dignified and disciplined response of the Springfield Road residents to Saturdays Orange march in their area.

Mr Adams said: I want to commend the residents of the Springfield and Colin area who on Saturday responded with dignity and discipline to Orange marches going into their area. The calm, thoughtful and courageous stand was in stark contrast to the disgraceful determination of the Parades Commission which was essentially a surrender to loyalist threats.


A gate linking Derrys Fountain estate and the citys Bishop Street is to be closed at nights following a number of sectarian attacks along the interface.

The decision to close the gate was taken yesterday after a man was severely beaten by attackers who came out of the Protestant Fountain early on Saturday morning.

The gate is the only link between the two areas through Derrys historic walls.

Yesterday Sinn Fin Councillor, Peter Anderson, revealed that he had written to the Department of Environment to request the closing of the gate linking the Fountain and Bishop Street.

The people who carried out the attacks during the past few weeks have used this gate to leave and re-enter the Fountain estate after each attack, he said.

These attacks are obviously orchestrated as the perpetrators have brought weapons with them and are an attempt to create tensions between the two communities after relationships had greatly improved since a scheme to patrol the area was instigated several months ago.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News