Order in appeal for calm after ‘preposterous decision’

The Woodvale-Ardoyne interface, pictured on night of July 3, 2014
The Woodvale-Ardoyne interface, pictured on night of July 3, 2014

The Orange Order has hit out at the Parades Commission over its determination preventing Ligoniel lodges from completing their Twelfth parade past the Ardoyne shopfronts in north Belfast.

In a statement, issued soon after the Parades Commission determination on July 12 parades in Belfast, a spokesman for the Orange Order appealed for calm “despite the exploits of an ill-informed and apparently ill-disposed Parades Commission”.

The spokesman said: “This preposterous decision by the Parades Commission only underlines the increasing perception that its determinations are dictated by the threat of physical force opposition to our parades.

“Such reckless action comes despite the prolonged and genuine efforts by the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast, and primarily the Ligoniel lodges, to defuse tensions concerning loyal order parades in this part of the city over the past 12 months, including face-to-face discussions with nationalist residents.

“There will quite rightly be indignation across the entire unionist community at the latest restriction on our legitimate cultural expression and traditions; and therefore the Orange Institution will be meeting with our political leaders at the earliest opportunity to discuss further the ramifications of this decision.”

The Orange Order spokesman said they are also “mindful of continuing intransigent opposition by republicans to loyal order parades in other areas of the Province, including the long-standing situation at Drumcree”.

He added: “Despite the exploits of an ill-informed and apparently ill-disposed Parades Commission, we would appeal for calm and call on all not to be drawn into the trap being set by republicans.

“Any violence will only undermine our cause. We would reiterate that anyone wishing to protest against this outrageous decision must do so in a peaceful manner.

“Only then can civil and religious liberty prevail.”

Within an hour of the Parades Commission determination filtering through, unionist parties walked out of Stormont talks about parades, flags and the past.

The leaders of the DUP, UUP, TUV, PUP and UPRG also issued a joint statement in which they said they “see no value in continuing contact with a Parades Commission that does not listen and is immune to reason”.

The determination ruled that the outward leg of the parade could proceed along the Crumlin Road – although only hymn music could be played by bands.

On the return leg the commission determination said: “On the notified return route, the parade shall not process that part of the notified route between the junction of Woodvale Parade and Woodvale Road and the junction of Hesketh Road and Crumlin Road. The parade shall disperse no later than 7.30pm.”

Since July 2013 loyalists have maintained a constant presence at a protest camp at Twaddell Avenue at the Woodvale/Ardoyne interface.

Violence broke out at the interface last year after local Orangemen were prevented from completing their Twelfth parade.