Northern Ireland news

Nationalists welcome ban on parade through peaceline

Orangemen passing through the gates at Workman Avenue during a previous parade
Connla Young

NATIONALISTS have welcomed a complete ban on the Orange Order marching through a west Belfast peace line on July 12.

Members of two lodges, Whiterock Temperance LOL 974 and West Belfast LOL 739, had wanted to parade from the Springfield Road through a gate at Workman Avenue.

However, the Parades Commission has ruled for the first time that those taking part in the feeder parade must proceed via a nearby Invest NI site.

Other restrictions include playing a single drumbeat on a side drum between the junction of West Circular Road and Springfield Road and the junction of Springfield Road and Invest NI.

A similar parade was banned from passing through the flashpoint last month, sparking an angry response from unionists.

But the latest decision is the first time Orangemen have been banned from Workman Avenue on the morning of July 12, with restrictions already applying to the evening march.

In the past nationalists have complained about insignia referring to loyalist paramilitary figures during parades in the area.

Prior to 2016 a small group of marchers were allowed to use the permanently closed gate, with the main body of the parade travelling via a different route to the Invest NI site where the groups rejoined.

In 2005 there was serious violence after the commission banned a similar march from passing through Workman Avenue earlier in the year.

Sean Murray of Springfield Residents' Action Group welcomed the latest decision.

“It’s a great relief because we have been campaigning for 20 years in relation to getting a resolution to these parades,” he said.

Mr Murray claimed the Orange Order had refused to meet with residents and confirmed they had withdrawn plans to hold a protest.

Sinn Féin assembly member Fra McCann said the decision to restrict Orangemen was “a vindication of the residents’ position”.

“Without dialogue there could be no agreement and the Parade Commission have recognised this,” he said.

The Orange Order accused the commission of issuing “vindictive determinations”.

"However, in spite of this provocation and uninformed dictates, the institution remains determined to ensure the Twelfth is an enjoyable day for all,” it said.

The order added that it remains “committed to replacing the current parading legislation with a system fit for purpose that is equitable, transparent and accountable - all the things that the current system lacks”.

DUP MLA William Humphrey also condemned the ruling.

“This is the latest example of how the discredited Parades Commission is not part of the solution to parading in Northern Ireland, but is part of the problem,” he said.

The Parades Commission said “It is well recognised that the importance of peace walls and security gates lies in their capacity to provide security and safety to local communities.

“Government departments and agencies, voluntary and other community groups have in their working practices and policies acknowledged this role and given primacy of decision making to communities in terms of how and when peace walls and security gates are to be used, opened or taken away.”

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