Two Orange lodges were informed yesterday by the Parades Commission that they will not be allowed to walk their traditional route onto the Springfield Road on the Twelfth morning.
Ulster Unionist Robert Foster, who is a member of West Belfast LOL 739, said it was a case of bad behaviour being rewarded and good behaviour being punished.
The feeder parade from Whiterock Orange Hall to West Belfast Orange Hall had traditionally proceeded along the Springfield Road before passing through a peace gate to Workman Avenue, however this year the organisers were told those taking part would have to walk through the old Mackie’s factory site to access the remainder of the route.
The Parades Commission noted that the use of the permanently closed gate in the peace line was inconsistent with the community consultation about the design of the gates in 2015.
Organisers had raised issues with the commission they had been verbally abused by protesters at the peace gate.
Mr Foster of the UUP was angered that his lodge – West Belfast LOL 739 – and Whiterock LOL 974 have been prohibted from walking the Springfield Road.
He said: “Once again the Parades Commission has arrived at a determination that defies logic and is completely unfair. The two lodges have traditionally processed along the Springfield Road and turned through the Workman Avenue gates to join the main feeder parade.”
He added: “I can say with certainty that both lodges and accompanying bands have faithfully obeyed all previous determinations by the Parades Commission, and this year their reward has been to be re-routed through the Mackie’s site. This is particularly hard to take given that last year republicans flouted the determination and staged a protest by the gates.
“Once again bad behaviour has been rewarded and good behaviour has been punished. This decision further calls into question the role of the Parades Commission. It appears to me that they are part of the problem, not the solution.”