Northern Ireland news

Orange lodge abandons parade plans after interface reroute

An Orange lodge parade planned to go past Short Strand has been rerouted
Connla Young

AN Orange lodge has abandoned plans for a parade in east Belfast after it was re-routed away from an interface area.

The move came after the Parades Commission ruled that Ravenhill Road Volunteers LOL would not be allowed to pass close to the nationalist Short Strand district today.

The march, which was expected to include one band and 50 participants, was organised to “parade” the lodge's new banner.

The number of supporters expected to attend was listed as unknown.

Organisers had wanted to march from Paulett Avenue onto Albertbridge Road, which passes the Short Strand area and on to the Ravenhill Road.

From there those taking part had intended making their way to Lagan Village Rangers Supporters Club.

However, in a ruling the Parades Commission has banned the march from passing the interface and from the Ravenhill Road.

Instead those taking part have been told to take an alternative route to their destination.

In its determination the Parades Commission said the organiser did not engage directly with them.

It also said that the route chosen by the organiser had not previously been notified.

It added that the “amended route enables the organisers to exercise freedoms of assembly and expression regarding the lodge's new banner at the date and time of their choosing…while reducing the disproportionate traffic and other disruption on busy arterial routes on Saturday afternoon.

“The amended route will also mitigate the community relations impacts of a new parade at a sensitive east Belfast interface.”

In a statement issued through the Orange Order last night the lodge claimed that it had “been denied permission to parade our new banner along the Ravenhill Road, the locality where we were formed in 1894, and as is the tradition on such occasions”.

“This is an offensive denial of our right to express our religious and cultural identity,” it said.

“It is clear this decision is part of a strategy by the Parades Commission to have future traditional parades in east Belfast re-routed.”

The statement added that this “decision is part of a strategy by the Parades Commission to have future traditional parades in east Belfast re-routed” and there was “much anger” over the decision.

“Sadly, the commission seek to use parading legislation to punish the organisers, rather than be independent and fair adjudicators of public possessions - shame on them,” it said.

The statement said that “in the interests of reducing community tensions and not falling into the commission's "trap” the parade will not be held today.

It added that the lodge will “fly our banner” along the Ravenhill Road on a date before July 1 next year.

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