Parade ruling shows that it was right not to rush into language act
Yet another July Twelfth parade has been re-routed in Belfast.
The Parades Commission has said that two Orange lodges will not be permitted through the peaceline gates at Workman Avenue, in the Springfield Road area.
The Twelfth has not previously been affected in this way, but the Whiterock event has been.
The DUP MLA William Humphrey has rightly descried the decision as having been taken “at the behest of nationalist/republican intolerance”.
The decision is all the more alarming because it is another small but nonetheless significant encroachment on the biggest day of the marching calendar.
The most alarming and shameful such decision was taken in 2013, when disgraceful and large scale dissident-inspired violence in the Ardoyne the year before (in response to only a partial ban on the Orangemen in 2012) was rewarded by the Parades Commission with the full ban that the dissidents demanded.
This is the persistent and long-term pattern in a range of locations: members of the loyal orders abide by a range of restrictions, some of them unreasonable, yet they are penalised.
But the dissident republican agitators, who encourage residents to be offended by a short annual march, never face sanction.
If they create a conflict over a route, ultimately there is pressure to reach ‘a compromise’. This will be the pattern for decades to come.
As Mr Humphrey says, the brethren walk down a stretch of the Springfield Road every July 12 in a dignified and disciplined way, with no breaches.
This development is a stark illustration of the one-way direction of travel on cultural matters in Northern Ireland, and why it is so important that there has been no rushing into an Irish language act in order to restore Stormont.