Parades Commission slammed after restrictions placed on key Twelfth parade

Workman Avenue gates on the Springfield Road. 'Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Workman Avenue gates on the Springfield Road. 'Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
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The Parades Commission’s decision to prevent a Belfast lodge from walking along a stretch of the Springfield Road on the Twelfth morning has been labelled “a reward for intransigence”.

Whiterock LOL 974 have been prevented from passing through the peace-line at the Workman Avenue gates for the fourth consecutive year.

Instead they must traverse the Innovation Centre (the former site of James Mackie and Sons) to access the Shankill Road from the Springfield Road.

Ulster Unionist councillor Robert Foster said the ruling had become “par for the course”.

Mr Foster, who is a member of West Belfast LOL 739, said: “Once again the Parades Commission has chosen to reward intransigence by a ruling which will prevent my own lodge and Whiterock LOL 974, making their way along the Springfield Road on the Twelfth, and requiring them to pass through the Mackies’ site, instead of the Workman Avenue gates further along the Springfield Road.

“This is becoming par for the course for the Parades Commission which gives us no credit or reward whatsoever for abiding by all previous determinations. It has become part of the problem, not part of the solution and I cannot see matters improving until it is disbanded.

“The Parades Commission seems to operate using the principle that if someone dislikes something, then it should be banned. That completely misses the basic point that in any democracy you are very likely to see or hear things with which you may disagree.

“A shared future – by any reasonable definition – means that Orange parades should be facilitated not prevented. The Orange Order is part of the rich history of Belfast, and the lack of tolerance shown towards the Order is a problem that must be addressed.”

The Parades Commission said: “The Commission has received a notice for a parade by Whiterock LOL 974 on the Springfield Road on 12 July 2019.

“The Commission issued a determination on this parade on 26 June 2019. This determination set out the community tensions arising from loyal order parades on the Springfield Road, and the objections to the lodge’s notification to process through the closed security peace line gates at Workman Avenue onto the Springfield Road.

“The Commission’s determination restricts the morning parade from processing through the peace line gates, instead, the parade is to process a considerable distance of its notified route along the Springfield Road, about a third of a mile, prior to entering the Invest NI site.

“A protest of 250 participants against this parade was considered by the Commission, which imposed conditions restricting the protest to 100 participants, and stipulating the protest’s location.

“Tensions about parades arise when they seek to process areas with competing histories and traditions. These are best resolved through local dialogue and communication. To date, the organiser of this parade has not opened the lines of communication that would result in resolution of this parade.

“The protest to the parade has been withdrawn.

With regard to West Belfast LOL 739, the Parades Commission said: “The Commission has received a notice for a parade by West Belfast LOL 739 in the Shankill area on 12 July 2019. The route notified is Waltnagarron View, Fortriver Road, Ballygomartin Road, Woodvale Road, Shankill Road, West Belfast Orange Hall.

The Commission has received no objections nor complaints about this parade, and has therefore not imposed conditions on it.”