Route ban for junior Orange parade is condemned by UUP

The Orange Order
The Orange Order

The decision to re-route a parade commemorating the dead of World War One has come under fire from the Ulster Unionists.

The parade, by the Altnaveigh Junior LOL No 37, was earmarked to pass through the Sugar Island and Trevor Hill areas of Newry during the evening of Friday, May 8.

However, the Parades Commission has issued restrictions barring it from these areas.

The stated aim of the parade is to unveil a new banner depicting Ulster Tower at Thiepval, and honour six lodge members killed in the 1914-18 conflict.

It was to leave Newry Orange Hall at 8.30pm, and pass through these areas en route to the hockey club on Belfast Road, with up to 200 participants.

UUP councillor David Taylor called the move “extremely disappointing”.

He added: “It only serves to further discredit the Commission in terms of its ability to make impartial judgements on parades across Northern Ireland.

“It is abundantly clear the Parades Commission has once again tried to appease Republicanism in arriving at its decision in respect of the parade organised by Altnaveigh Junior LOL No 37.”

Laying out its reasoning, the commission said that Sugar Island / Trevor Hill was a “sensitive area”, and that bands had been excluded from it for around a decade.

There have only been two exceptions, which it said are the result of “local initiatives”; it also added that in this latest case it was not aware “any meaningful engagement” had taken place.

It also said that the application form implied that only a small number of participants – perhaps as few as 10 – would actually be junior Orangemen.

In particular, it adds that the area in question contains a number of nightclubs which would be open during the procession.

However, councillor Taylor said he was “far from satisfied” with its reasoning.

He added that the “sensitive area” is a commercial district.

“That is considered shared space, civic space,” he said.

“There is no one community that has any entitlement to dictate what goes on in that area.”