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Nationalist residents call off Whiterock parade protest

Orangemen passing through the gates at Workman Avenue
Connla Young

NATIONALIST residents have cancelled a planned protest on Saturday in the wake of a Parades Commission ruling banning the Orange Order from a contentious route in west Belfast.

For the second year running the Orange Order has been told it will not be allowed to pass through a peace line at Workman Avenue onto the Springfield Road.

It has now emerged that Springfield Residents' Action Group has called off its planned 100-strong protest.

Up to 950 people and 15 bands are due to take part in the annual Whiterock parade on Saturday.

Prior to 2016 a small group of marchers had been allowed to use the permanently closed gate at Workman Avenue with the main part of the parade travelling along a different route to a nearby Invest NI site where the groups rejoined.

Nationalists have previously complained about insignia referring to loyalist paramilitary figures.

Residents' spokesman Sean Murray described the Parades Commission's decision as “balanced and proportionate”.

However, the Orange Order has voiced its “disgust and anger” at the decision.

There was serious violence in 2005 after the commission banned a similar parade from passing through Workman Avenue earlier in the year.

The commission has ruled that Orangemen will be allowed to walk along a stretch of the Springfield Road near the Invest NI site, although bands will only be allowed to play hymn music and only “specified banners and flags” can be carried.

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