Northern Ireland news

Orange Order banned from passing through west Belfast peaceline again

Orangemen passing through the gates at Workman Avenue
Connla Young

THE Orange Order has been banned from marching through a west Belfast 'peaceline' into a nationalist area for the second year running.

Unionists reacted angrily last night after the Parades Commission ruled that Orangemen will not be allowed to pass through Workman Avenue onto the Springfield Road on June 24.

Up to 950 people and 15 bands are expected to take part in the contentious Whiterock parade.

Prior to 2016, a small group was allowed to pass through the permanently closed gate, with the main body of the parade travelling via a different route to a nearby Invest NI site where the groups usually rejoin.

In previous years there have been complaints from nationalists about insignia referring to loyalist paramilitary figures.

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

The commission has ruled that those taking part will be allowed to march along a stretch of the Springfield Road close to the Invest NI site, although bands will only be allowed to play hymn music.

In its determination the Parades Commission said there has been no "communication amongst the communities regarding the proposed parade this year”.

Springfield Residents’ Action Group spokesman Sean Murray welcomed the decision.

“We think it’s balanced and proportionate determination,” he said.

“It’s a realisation of a five-point plan brought forward by residents in 2003."

Mr Murray said residents will meet in the coming days to decide if they will press ahead with plans for a protest, which has been restricted to 100 people.

Nationalists called off a demonstration last year although a small unnotified protest did take place.

Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann also described the Parades Commission ruling as a “fair and balanced determination that deals with the restrictions campaigned for by local residents while also affording the Orange Order the right to parade down part of the Springfield Road”.

But DUP councillor Frank McCoubrey condemned the decision.

“The lack of any openness or transparency on the part of the commission of course means they do not provide any proper justification or explanation for their illogical decisions,” he said.

“The Parades Commission have repeatedly demonstrated how they stand as part of the problem in parading here rather than the solution.”

The Orange Order declined to comment.

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