Immoral Parades Commission ruling a reward for violence

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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A year after the Parades Commission made arguably its most outrageous determination, the organisation has exceeded even that benchmark.

Last year the quango ruled that Orangemen would have to pass the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast by 4.30pm — a farcical decision to accommodate a dissident republican march deliberately timed to disrupt the traditional parade — meaning they had to miss most of the parade home.

Despite fury at a decision seen as a sop to dissident republicans, who have consistently organised protests in the vicinity of the parade which descended into serious rioting and attempts to murder police officers, the Orange lodges abided by that decision.

The dignity of the Orangemen that day stood in sharp contrast to that of the dissident republicans whose contrived ‘parade’ yet again led to serious disorder.

A year on, it had been widely hoped that the Parades Commission would reward the Orangemen who in this instance — and it has not always been the case in other parts of north Belfast — rigidly stuck to what was asked of them last year.

There was understandable anger, therefore, when on Tuesday night the commission announced that it had gone one further than last year and banned the return parade past Ardoyne shops altogether. Nevertheless — and despite the manifest injustice of what has been decided, with its immoral reward for those who don’t want an Orangeman anywhere near them — the Order must do everything in its power to ensure a peaceful Twelfth.

Orangemen and their supporters must not do anything which would give dissident republicans the violent scenes they crave. Because with every year of Parades Commission determinations on that route, more and more people — even some of those sceptical of the Order — are seeing the merits of their case.

There will be righteous anger in the Orange Order today. But the Order needs strategic thinkers who can turn republican tactics back on them by playing a long game.