08 September 2005

Whiterock march re-routing stands

BBC

A contentious Orange Order parade in west Belfast will not go through security gates in an interface area, the Parades Commission has again said.

The commission said it would not review the ruling on the Whiterock parade because there was no new information.

But it said it would now allow a feeder march on the Springfield Road at "a non-contentious part".

DUP leader Ian Paisley said the issue "could be the spark which kindles a fire there would be no putting out".

Mr Paisley, speaking after holding talks about the parade with Secretary of State Peter Hain, said it was "the most worrying situation he had faced for a very long time".

Both he and the Ulster Unionist leader, Sir Reg Empey, said they had been disappointed by Mr Hain's response.

They said the situation was now in his hands and that they also hope to speak to the Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde.

The Orange Order shelved the re-routed parade in June. It was re-scheduled for Saturday but again restricted.

Loyalists blocked roads in north and west Belfast in protest at the decision for the second day.

The Springfield Road was blocked at Dunboyne Park, as was the Ballygomartin Road at the Springmartin Road.

The Crumlin Road was also closed between Hillview Street and Cambria Street.

On Thursday morning, up to 30 people blocked part of the Springfield Road for about 90 minutes.

Protesters say daily blockades will continue until their preferred route of Workman Avenue rather than through the former Mackies factory site is allowed.

Protests

Springfield Road was also blocked twice on Wednesday. There have been a series of protests on the Springfield Road over the last few days by loyalists angry at the decision to re-route the parade.

The initial parade planned for June had been opposed by nationalist Springfield Road residents.

In its determination on the march, the Parades Commission cited "a possible adverse effect on community relations" if the march was allowed on the Order's preferred route.

The Parades Commission was set up in 1997 to make decisions on whether or not restrictions should be imposed on controversial parades during Northern Ireland's marching season.

The unionist leaders held talks with Mr Hain via video link at Stormont because Mr Hain is in England.

They were joined at the talks by senior Orangemen and North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds.

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