09 September 2005

Whiterock parade tension volatile: DUP

Belfast Telegraph

By Chris Thornton
09 September 2005

Tomorrow's controversial Orange parade in west Belfast is becoming increasingly volatile, DUP leader Ian Paisley said today as he continued to try overturning the Parades Commission decision to reroute the march.

Mr Paisley was expecting to meet Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde today to discuss policing the Whiterock Parade after the Commission said it would not review its decision to divert the postponed march.

Mr Paisley and UUP leader Sir Reg Empey spoke jointly to Secretary of State Peter Hain by video link yesterday, but Mr Hain told the unionist chiefs that he does not have the power to change the Commission's ruling.

The Commission also defended its decision to reroute the parade, saying it had only been diverted by 100 metres.

The march was originally scheduled to take place in June, but the Orange Order decided to postpone the parade - eventually pushing the marching season into extra time - when the Commission would not approve their original route.

Instead the Orangemen applied to march tomorrow. But the Commission stuck to its original ruling, which keeps marchers off part of the Springfield Road.

Instead of entering the road from Workman's Avenue, the Commission said the marchers should go through the former Mackie's site.

The Commission also said bands would be permitted to play tunes on the Springfield Road, a relaxation of previous conditions.

After yesterday's discussions with unionist leaders, Mr Hain said he has "no legal authority in this situation to change the decision of the Parades Commission.

"I am legally bound to respect their independence," he added.

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