The rerouting an Orange parade in east Belfast has been branded an “offensive denial of rights” by the event organisers.
Responding to the Parades Commission determination, the Ravenhill Road Volunteers lodge said the ban on the small parade passing along the Albertbridge and Ravenhill Roads on Saturday afternoon has “caused much anger” within the east Belfast community.
The one-off parade had been organised to unfurl and dedicate a new banner which commemorates the lodge’s origins in the ‘old Lagan Village’ area.
However, the Parades Commission has ruled out a route past the Mountpottinger interface, and along a section of the Ravenhill Road at peak Saturday trading hours.
In a statement, the lodge said: “Ravenhill Road Volunteers LOL 580 has been denied permission to parade our new banner along the Ravenhill Road, the locality where we were formed in 1894, and as is the tradition on such occasions.
“This is an offensive denial of our right to express our religious and cultural identity. It is clear this decision is part of a strategy by the Parades Commission to have future traditional parades in east Belfast re-routed.”
The statement added: “This action has caused much anger amongst many within the east Belfast community, as the feelings, views and concerns of the Protestant community are continually ignored by the Commission. Sadly, the Commission seek to use parading legislation to punish the organisers, rather than be independent and fair adjudicators of public possessions – shame on them.”
The lodge will carry on with its plans to unfurl the banner at Ballymacarrett Orange Hall but will not parade at this time “in the interests of reducing community tensions”.
The statement goes on to say that the lodge will display it banner along the Ravenhill Road “on a date before July 1, 2020”.
• A spokesman for the Parades Commission told the News Letter: “This is a new parade by the Ravenhill Road Volunteers LOL 580, to parade a new lodge banner.
“Its proposed route in east Belfast on Saturday, November 16 includes the Albertbridge and Ravenhill Roads, with dispersal at 3.45pm at the Lagan Village Rangers Supporters Club.
“The Commission has considered the level of potential disruption caused by this new parade at the busy Albertbridge and Ravenhill Roads on a Saturday afternoon. The Commission has considered the potential impact on community relations of an additional new parade at a sensitive interface.”
The spokesman said the Commission has determined that the parade may take a more direct route along Templemore Avenue and Castlereagh Street to its dispersal at Lagan Village Rangers Supporters Club, and added: “This amended route will cause less traffic and other disruption on a Saturday afternoon.
“It will mitigate the potential adverse impacts on community relations of an additional new parade at a sensitive east Belfast interface.”