13 July 2005

Commision ruling ‘breach’

Daily Ireland

Connla Young

The Police Service for Northern Ireland (PSNI) has come in for strong criticism after claims that Orangemen were allowed to breach a Parades Commission determination in Co Armagh.
Criticism of the the PSNI operation to marshal an Orange parade in Lurgan came after a group of 12 Orangemen were escorted down the town’s nationalist William Street area by the PSNI. Side streets and roads were blocked by PSNI Land Rovers as they made their way along the street towards the town’s railway station.
The Parades Commission had earlier banned members of the Orange Order from entering the nationalist district.
A group of Orangemen, which included Upper Bann MP David Simpson, met PSNI commanders minutes before heading down William Street in full Orange Order regalia under PSNI escort. The group later returned to the town centre via William Street where they continued with the Orange Order’s district demonstration in nearby Portadown.
Violence flared after an Orange Order parade in the Co Armagh town last year when the PSNI allowed Orange Order marchers to proceed beyond a specific point designated by the Parades Commission on Market Street.
Upper Bann MLA John O’Dowd says his party will ask the Police Ombudsman’s Office to attend future parades in Lurgan to monitor the PSNI’s conduct.
“It would appear that the PSNI, like the old RUC, see one of their primary roles as attempting to reassert Orange Order domination over minority nationalist communities. It is clear following last year’s breaches of Parades Commissions determination in Lurgan and now this breach facilitated by the PSNI, that the PSNI cannot be trusted to enforce such determinations. I am calling on the Police Ombudsman’s Office to intervene and place personnel on the ground in Lurgan to monitor PSNI activity, and Loyal Order parade.”
“The Parades Commission banned the Orangemen from walking down this street. After talking with the police they walked down the street and that is a clear breach of the Parades Commission determination and it was done in agreement with the police. There is a clear pattern emerging here. Last year we had a similar situation when Orangemen were allowed to move beyond a particular point in the road by the PSNI and this has been repeated here this year. We will be asking thePparades Commission how they will be dealing with this clear breach of their determination.”
A spokesperson for the PSNI confirmed that Orangemen passed down the town’s nationalist William Street.
“A delegation of senior Orangemen walked down William Street after the main parade had passed by. They had spoken with senior police officers on the ground prior to walking down the street. This does not constitute a procession/parade. The main parade itself did not enter William Street at any time. No public disorder occurred during the parade.”
A spokesperson for the Parades Commission said that monitors were on the ground in Lurgan and they await a “formal report” of events.

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