The Orange Order has used an address to protestors at Twaddell Avenue in north Belfast to press the Secretary of State once again for an inquiry into the Parades Commission handling of their case.
Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Rev Alistair Smyth, addressed the weekly Woodvale Road protest in north Belfast on Saturday.
Protestors have created a camp at the area since they were refused permission to complete the return leg of their July 12 parade in 2013, past the nationalist Ardoyne area.
Mr Smyth said: “Your constant presence here on day 407, and the second year, of this continuing peaceful and steadfast protest, is testament to the determination and fortitude of the wider Orange family.”
And he added: “The same unelected quango, which continues to block this traditional procession on a weekly basis, last night [Friday] placed new unnecessary and severe restrictions on an invitational band parade in Rasharkin.
“While there is a palpable and justifiable sense of anger within the Protestant and unionist community over this decision, and many others – this is only heightened while republicans in recent times can brazenly and openly glorify terrorism in Co Fermanagh and parade through Kilkeel without little or no evidence gathering by the police, nor regulation by the Parades Commission. What double standards!”
He praised local Orangemen and protestors for a peaceful Twelfth.
“We, as an Institution, very much welcome the unity of purpose within political unionism and today, I would urge the Secretary of State to act swiftly and decisively over the proposal by our unionist leaders for a commission of inquiry into parading in north Belfast.
“Time is of the essence. The Parades Commission is not working. The legislation needs to be replaced. Ms Villiers must grasp the nettle and begin putting right what is very clearly wrong.”
“We have heard much about the graduated response this summer. Let me be clear, we as an Orange Institution continue to liaise with our unionist leaders in our ongoing campaign to make Northern Ireland a better place by changing the regulatory system for parades.”
He added: “There will always be those who will try to divide that coalition, but it is the strong opinion of the Orange Institution that the unity of purpose built around this issue is fundamental to a successful outcome.”
This will undoubtedly be a lengthy process, but he promised “a determined response”.
In the meantime, Grand Lodge would encourage private lodges to demonstrate their support by attending the ongoing peaceful protests here at Woodvale and Twaddell, as well as at Drumcree.”
IN response to the Orange Order statement TUV leader Jim Allister said the Parades Commission are making restrictions “because they are toadying to the threat of violence” and they will only be forced to change by effective political action.
“That is the logic of the graduated response but it has to be demonstrably working to a delivery of that end,” he added.
On 15 August the DUP said a joint statement “on the next stage of the graduated response will be issued in the coming days”.
Isaac Andrews of west Belfast UPRG has said some were asking if there was “a stalling tactic to get us over the summer”. He said there was growing anger about major dissident displays in Belfast this month at a city centre parade and at Tony Catney‘s funeral.