26 May 2006

NY-based rights group condemns ‘sectarian’ parades

Daily Ireland

by Ciaran O’Neill

A US-based organisation which monitors parades in the North has described Orange Order marches as ‘anti-Catholic’ and ‘anti-Irish’.
The Irish Parades Emergency Committee (Ipec) yesterday called on Orange Order leaders and the PSNI to ensure that future parades are free from sectarian trappings.
Ipec’s latest report on parades in Belfast last summer has been forwarded to the Irish, British and US governments, as well as political parties in the North.
The report, which was released yesterday, deals with Orange Order parades in the north and east of the city in July.
Among the incidents included in the report were participants in Orange Order parades dressing up as Catholic nuns.
Sean Cahill, a spokesman for Ipec, which was formed in 1997 to monitor Orange Order parades in nationalist areas in the North, described the parades as ‘anti-Catholic political theatre’.
“Once again we documented brazen displays of support for loyalist paramilitary groups in Orange parades through or past Catholic, nationalist communities in Belfast,” he said.
“These displays clearly violate Parades Commission guidelines, the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, and other laws.
“The British and Irish governments must uphold the Good Friday Agreement’s basic guarantee of freedom from sectarian harassment.”
Mr Cahill said in past years his organisation had been careful to portray the marches as ‘Orange parades with loyalist participation’.
“But the brazen promotion of loyalist terror groups in parades past the Short Strand and through Ardoyne has become so pervasive that we have taken to calling these Orange/loyalist parades.”
Ipec praised the restraint shown by nationalist residents, the PSNI and some Orange Order stewards during last summer’s parades,
It stressed that more needed to be done to tackle the problems associated with Orange Order parades.
“We call on the PSNI to uphold the rule of law and enforce the ban on sectarian displays at Orange/loyalist parades,” said Mr Cahill.
“We also call on Orange and unionist leaders to end loyalist and anti-Catholic displays at Orange Order parades through nationalist and Catholic areas. This is, after all, the 21st century,” he said.

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