30/09/2013

Orange March Request Criticised

An application by the Orange order to complete an 'unfinished' parade that began on 12 July this year has been criticised.

The move follows a decision by the Parades Commission earlier this year to only let the Orange Order march through a predominantly Catholic area of north Belfast once.

Police blocked the parade on its return route, according to the Commission's determination. Trouble flared as a result of the restrictions and loyalist protestors attacked police with bottles and other missiles.

Now the Order says it will only engage in dialogue with local residents if it is allowed to complete the parade.

A statement from the Orange Order said: "We are committed to full and open dialogue with Ardoyne residents for the 2014 parades that can commence immediately after our return to Ligoniel Orange Hall.

"A few moments of tolerance on a quiet Saturday morning can move the situation forward and create a positive platform, both for the 2014 parades and the Haass talks."

But Sinn Féin MLA for north Belfast Gerry Kelly said there should be no preconditions to dialogue regarding resolution to the parading issues.

"The announcement today by the Orange Order and unionist parties does not amount to an initiative," he said.

"The setting of a precondition, that a parade past Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales, must take place before dialogue can commence, is not the way to progress this situation.

"The Parades Commission have made their determination on the 2013 parade. This still stands. If the Orange Order are now saying that they will enter into dialogue on the 2014 parading season, that would be very welcome.
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"However this choreographed announcement to the media from the Belfast leadership of the Orange Order, the DUP, PUP and UUP is not aimed at resolving the difficulties that exist. On the contrary it is yet another attempt to undermine the Parades Commission.

"The Orange Order has announced its intentions through the media without discussing things with or providing prior notification to CARA. If they really wanted to assist community relations or the Haass process an initiative might be to move their protest off the interface at Twaddell."

Ulster Unionist lead Mike Nesbitt said: "We need a level playing field for the Haass Talks to succeed. Having a 2013 Parade stuck incomplete does nothing to help. The guarantee that dialogue for 2014 will follow immediately should residents endorse the resolution of this 2013 impasse is interesting and challenges the traditional narrative of unionist intransigence."

First Minister Peter Robinson said: "I commend the Lodges and Bands for launching the Twaddell Initiative to resolve the situation. It has the full support of the DUP and its local elected representatives.

"The Parades Commission has failed to give due recognition to the dialogue in July this year and in previous years. The commitment and foresight of the offer of dialogue for 2014 is to be welcomed. Now they have the opportunity to do so.

"The onus is now upon nationalism to show leadership and to respond positively to this genuine attempt to reach accommodation. They must face down the elements in their community who wish to drag Northern Ireland back."

Alliance North Belfast representative Cllr John Blair said: "Alliance believes that all sides should enter into dialogue on contentious parades, however no side should set preconditions for entering into such talks.

"We have all seen the consequences of the failure to resolve disputed parades this summer. It is paramount that we resolve this dispute and ensure that we have no repeat of this summer's violence next year.

"I would again urge people to respect the legally binding determinations of the Parades Commission and the rule of law."

(IT/CD)

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