25 June 2005


Orange Order protest march ends peacefully

25/06/2005 - 18:21:20

A massive protest march in Belfast, which was held after the Orange Order postponed today’s contentious parade, passed off peacefully.

Over a thousand people, including a dozen bands from different Orange Order lodges, took part in the march in the Shankill area of Belfast as police kept a discrete presence.

However, the Order has warned it is determined to march along its traditional route in west Belfast before the autumn after it abandoned plans for today’s Whiterock parade.

The Order’s North and West Belfast Parades Forum decided to postpone the contentious march in the Whiterock area of the city after the Parades Commission rerouted it.

Residents in the nationalist Springfield Road area welcomed the abandonment of today’s march.

In a statement, nationalist residents said the only way to resolve the matter was for the parade organisers to resume negotiations with the residents.

However, DUP councillor and Orangeman Nelson McCausland said the Order was determined to march in the area without being re-routed, as the forum decided to stage a protest parade in the Shankill area instead.

“The protest parade today is only the start and we would encourage people to support that protest parade. Then over the coming weeks and months that campaign strategy will unfold,” Mr McCausland said.

“It undoubtedly will include such things as an exploration of a legal challenge to what the parades commission has done.

“But in the end we are determined to secure our basic right to parade there to the Whiterock hall as brethren have done for the past 48 years.”

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds also appealed to people to come on out and support today’s protest parade on the Shankill area.

The Orange Order’s North and West Belfast Parades Forum decided to postpone the march in the Whiterock area after the Parades Commission rerouted it.

Northern Ireland’s Parades Commission refused to lift restrictions on the parade, despite several attempts by the Orange Order to overturn it.

A statement from the North and West Parades Forum confirmed the parade will be postponed.

The statement said: “This has been an extremely difficult decision for our community to make.

“There has been a deliberate attempt to humiliate and demean our community and we are aware of the deep hurt that has been caused to our people.”

Mr Dodds said: “The Parade’s commission has been discredited in its disgraceful ruling over the Whiterock parade.

“It has rewarded the violence of Republicans against the Orange Order Parade last Friday.”

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said he was concerned at the Orange Order’s decision not to follow the route advocated by the Parades Commission in the Whiterock area.

Mr Adams said: “The Orange Order must realise however that it is not simply a case of entering into dialogue and being rewarded by a parade. The Orange Order must accept any discussions have to be open to resolutions, which may involve compromises.

“In this context the decision of the Parades Commission to re-route today’s Whiterock parade is the correct one. However the Orange Order have in recent days embarked upon a dangerous strategy of heightening tensions and threatening violence.”

Mr Adams said republicans would work towards a peaceful summer but the Orange Order, Parades Commission and the British government also had a role to play.

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