17 June 2005

BBC

Security tight for Orange march

Security is expected to be high for the annual Tour of the North Orange march, due to take place in north Belfast.

Nationalists are planning a protest at Ardoyne where about 80 Orangemen and their supporters are due to pass on their return route.

The march is the first to be affected by an extension of the law governing the behaviour of parade supporters.

The police have wider powers to control the movement and behaviour of parade followers at flashpoint areas.

The Tour of the North is among the first of a series of parades by Protestant Orangemen which culminates in the biggest demonstrations on 12 July.

The tour's route, on Friday, alternates on a two-year basis.

The flashpoint is where the feeder parade passes shops and housing in the mainly nationalist area of Ardoyne.

During this part of the march, the bandsmen are restricted to playing a single drum beat.

A ruling by the Parades Commission restricts nationalist protesters to the footpath outside the Ardoyne shops and loyalists supporters also face restrictions, following conflict at a parade last July.

Only when the parade has passed the shops can the supporters proceed, on the direction of the police.

Politicians from all sides have said they have been working for a peaceful outcome.

Alban Maginness, SDLP, said that he hoped that the new law would have a positive impact.

"Of course, it remains to be seen what way the supporters will want to play this, what way the Orange Order will want to play it and what way the police will be able to deal with this piece of new legislation," he said.

Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein, said he was opposed to the parade but was working for a peaceful outcome.

"The Orange Order are responsible for the crowd they bring back with them and the crowd that come back after a day's drinking is very abusive, very bigoted and very sectarian," he said.

Resolution

He said residents had collected firm evidence of what had happened in the past and this parade should not happen.

Nelson McCausland, DUP, claimed that it was republicans who rioted last year.

"That would be a bit rich coming from people who, last year, rioted in the shameful way they did," he said.

"Folk have to get back to Ballysillan after the parade."

Mr McCausland said his party was also working for a resolution.

The Tour of the North is expected to last about three hours and set the tone for the marching season over the next few months.

About 1,000 Orangemen are expected to take part.

The Parades Commission was set up in 1997 to make decisions on whether controversial parades should be restricted.

Each year, Orangemen commemorate Protestant Prince William of Orange's 1690 Battle of the Boyne victory over Catholic King James II.


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