Irish Republican News · June 11, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
‘Tour of the North’ to go ahead

The Parades Commission has ruled that a controversial Orange Order march can pass a north Belfast interface next week.

More than 1,000 members of the Protestant Orange Order and 20 so-called ‘kick-the-Pope’ bands are due to take part in the main march on Friday night, which has seen violent clashes in the past.

The ‘Tour of the North’ parade is often seen as an indicator for the rest of the marching season, including the highly contentious Drumcree march in Portadown in the first week of July, and the annual ‘Twelfth’ parades, when Orangemen hold hundreds of parades to mark a 17th century battle victory by the forces of King William.

The commission has again given permission for the controversial ‘feeder’ parade, involving 120 Orangemen and two bands, to pass an interface in the traditionally republican Ardoyne district.

In June and July 2005 there was serious violence as feeder parades passed Ardoyne, but in 2006 the parades passed off peacefully after negotiations.

Last week the commission ruled that the contentious parade could go ahead, despite nationalist residents and march organisers having failed to find agreement.

The commission said it regretted that “a local accommodation has not been possible on this occasion and shares the disappointment of all concerned in this dispute”.

Residents’ spokesman Joe Marley expressed disappointment at the determination.

“We had put proposals forward.. last June which we believed would have provided an honourable settlement for everyone,” he said.

“Unfortunately [parade organisers] took six months to even acknowledge our proposals and when they did reply they did not even address the issue of evening parades for 2007.”

Mr Marley said his group remained willing to engage in dialogue even at this late stage.

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© 2007 Irish Republican News