A decision to uphold a ban on an Orange parade along a stretch of Belfast’s Crumlin Road has been described as “shameful” by senior members of the Order.
Expressing dismay at yesterday’s Parades Commission determination – banning the three Ligoniel lodges from completing the return leg of their annual July 12 parade back to Ligoniel Orange Hall – the County Grand Lodge of Belfast said the commission had ignored a positive commitment to dialogue.
Saturday’s parade application also involved a 9am start – as opposed to the traditional late afternoon Twelfth return – to minimise traffic disruption and reduce the risk of disorder.
The additional proposals contained in the ‘Twaddell Initiative’ – submitted to the commission on Tuesday – pledged the local lodges would engage in “full and open dialogue” with Ardoyne residents.
A County Grand Lodge spokesman described the initiative as “a genuine and sincere attempt to resolve the current impasse” and added: “It is shameful that the Parades Commission – who created the situation at Woodvale – choose to consistently deny civil and religious liberty for all in north Belfast, and blatantly ignore a commitment by the Institution to full and open dialogue with Ardoyne residents following the completion of this long-held and traditional parade.
“Rather, they continue to consume only the republican narrative, succumb to the threat of violence posed by dissidents and in doing so have poisoned the positive atmosphere emanating from the Haass talks.”
The Order spokesman added: “However, despite this setback the Orange family and our unionist partners involved in the Civil Rights Camp remain determined to peacefully and resolutely maintain the ongoing presence at Twaddell Avenue. The campaign will continue for the lodges to be allowed to go home.”
Announcing its decision in relation to Saturday’s parade, the Parades Commission said the original July 12 determination provided a “route map” to act as a template for progress.
“The commission welcomes the commitment to commence dialogue that came with this [Ligoniel parade] notification and reaffirms its view that solutions to parading problems can be best achieved through sustained dialogue which we expect to commence straight away. In making this determination the commission is also mindful of the significant and unjustified violence that followed the enforcement of its July 12 determination. The commission also notes regular breaches at Twaddell Avenue at parades notified by this organiser of a civil rights camp.”
The spokesman called on clergy, community activists and representatives of parading organisations to “demonstrate genuine civic leadership to use their influence to reduce the potential for conflict”.