Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Ardoyne Orange Order parade decision not a surprise, but issue is republicans won't tolerate a march of any kind or at any time

PSNI officers stop Orangemen and loyalists from marching along the Woodvale Road in Belfast during last year's Twelfth celebrations
PSNI officers stop Orangemen and loyalists from marching along the Woodvale Road in Belfast during last year's Twelfth celebrations

The decision this week by the Parades Commission to once again ban the Ligoniel Lodges from completing their Twelfth of July parade did not come as a great surprise - but the determination is no less reprehensible for that.

The commission claims that it wants to see dialog and local agreement when it comes to contentious parades yet two issues arise when one considers the North Belfast situation in that light.

Firstly, the parade does not pass homes where residents have an issue. The nearest the parade would come to nationalist homes is when it passes the Ardoyne shop fronts. It is therefore quite legitimate to say that there are no residents on the parade route who have a problem with the parade. Those who object to the parade quite literally have to go out of their way to be offended by it. That said, as the Orange Order have made it clear they have engaged with dialogue with Ardoyne residents.

Which brings me to the second issue here. When challenged about what exactly the Orange Order would have to do to make the parade acceptable, on the BBC's Talkback on Wednesday, a representative of one of the residents’ groups simply replied that any Orange parade would always be unacceptable.

Gerry Kelly was similarly challenged to spell out exactly what the Orange Order would have to do, but totally failed to answer the question.

It seems obvious, therefore, that the issue is not finding some compromise between the competing demands of the Orange Order and protesters who live near to (but not on) the parade route.

The issue is that republicans will simply not tolerate an Orange parade of any kind or at any time. The heart of the matter is that while some republicans have laid aside their guns they continue to be engaged in cultural warfare. That’s why there is an attack upon the right to parade and why the Union Flag had to go from City Hall.

In the new peace process Northern Ireland there is much glib talk about shared space but all too often there seems to be no thought given to those to whom no space is given and who see their cultural being relentlessly suppressed.

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