11/07/2013

Parades Decision 'Ludicrous' - Order

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has described as "ludicrous" a decision by the Parades Commission to prevent a return march through Ardoyne on 12 July.

The annual march through the mainly nationalist area of north Belfast is always contentious, with local residents staging protests and often scenes escalating into rioting and violence against police officers.

This year, the Order will be allowed to parade along the traditional route, but will be prevented from doing so upon the return journey.

A statement from the Orange Order said: "This antiquated and unelected body is clearly not content in merely stifling our proud Protestant culture and heritage; but increasingly by its actions is causing irreparable damage to community relations and a so-called shared future in north Belfast."

Recent discussion were held between the Orange Order and the Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents' Association (Cara) to agree on a solution, but the talks ended without agreement.

While the Commission recognised the Order's willingness to agree to face-to-face discussion with nationalist residents, it noted the belated nature of the talks in relation to Friday's march.

"Such reckless behaviour takes place despite recent genuine and sincere efforts by the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast to defuse tensions concerning Loyal Order parades in this part of the city," the Order said.

"Despite such unprecedented initiatives, the Parades Commission has opted to reward violence and notably the threat posed by dissident republicans."

The statement continued: "In spite of obvious provocation, we would call on all not to be drawn into the trap being set by the commission and republicans. While violence may have closed this thoroughfare to a dignified parade; conversely, it will not open the road either."

(IT/CD)

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