McCracken parade decision shows republicans ‘second class’
McCracken parade decision shows republicans ‘second class’


A republican march through north Belfast on the same day as a loyalist parade has been rerouted by the Parades Commission.

The United Irish Commemoration in North Belfast involves a parade to the grave of Irish Patriot, Henry-Joy McCracken, in Clifton Street cemetery on August 25.

But the Henry Joy McCracken Flute Band has been told that it cannot parade past Clifton Street Orange Hall. There were fears that the parade could end in violence after two violent loyalist groups -- which had been involved in last week’s anti-internment parade riots -- applied to oppose it.

Greater Concerned Residents Group Belfast and Concerned Residents Group Shankill Belfast had applied to bring 600 protesters onto the streets.

Both groups, which were previously unknown, were involved in last Friday’s protest in Belfast city centre which ended in heavy violence. They have been told planned ‘protests’ can number only 10 people at each.


Earlier this week the Parades Commission gave the senior Orangemen of the Royal Black Preceptory approval to march through the area on the same day as the planned republican parade.

Two nationalist residents’ groups have been told they can hold small protests along the route which also passes the Carrick Hill/St Patrick’s Church flashpoint.

The republican parade, which is due to take place some time after the Royal Black march, will involve up to 500 people and seven bands.

It had applied to march from Ardoyne to New Lodge and along North Queen Street through the nationalist Carrick Hill district and on to Clifton Street Cemetery, which is a short distance away.

Violence erupted last year after loyalists clashed with police at a protest during a similar parade.

Earlier this week organisers of the parade offered to meet loyalists concerned about the parade.

Republican supporters of the McCracken parade said the decision was “further confirmation that republicans remain second-class citizens in our own city”.

But there were some suggestions the decision could set a precedent for loyalist parades to be rerouted away from the nationalist Carrick Hill area, an interface which has seen scores of loyalist parades and highly controversial sectarian incidents in recent months.

Sinn Fein councillor Conor Maskey warned any opposition to the Parades Commission determination “must remain peaceful”.

“The last thing north Belfast needs this summer is further violence associated with the sensitive issue of parades,” he said.

“Nobody should be using parades to heighten tensions in North Belfast or anywhere else for that matter.”


Restrictions have also been placed on a controversial loyalist march due to take place in County Antrim next week.

Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors Flute Band have been told only 25 bands will be allowed to take part in a parade through Rasharkin on August 23. The band had originally applied to bring 45 bands through the mainly nationalist village during their annual parade.

The parade must also end by 9pm. Two nationalist protest groups - Rasharkin Residents’ Collective and Rasharkin Residents’ Association - have been told they can hold separate protests involving 50 people in each along the village’s main street.

Rasharkin Residents’ Collective had wanted to hold a protest involving 1,500 people.

That group had also asked the Parades Commission to consider rerouting the parade away from the village centre.

Spokesman Sean Hanna said the determination “makes no sense”.

“They restrict people from going past Ardoyne shops but they place no restrictions on going past the shops in Rasharkin,” he said.

Meanwhile, the terms of reference for the Richard Haass panel on parades, flags and other contentious issues have been published. The former US envoy is to chair the inter-party talks next month. According to details released this week, the panel will bring forward a set of recommendations by the end of 2013.

Councillor Maskey called for talks to resolve parade disputes. “The way to address the difficulties surrounding parades is through direct dialogue and that remains our firmly held view,” he said.

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