Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Ban on Orange Order parade slammed

Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister, right, addresses loyalist protesters outside Stormont's Parliament Buildings

Politicians in Northern Ireland have backed a motion which described a ban on a controversial Orange Order parade as "illogical".

The Democratic Unionist motion was won by a single vote during a specially reconvened sitting of the Stormont Assembly.

Loyalists staged a protest outside the Parliament Buildings and afterwards the prominent campaigner Willie Frazer, who was jailed for his part in the flags protests earlier this year, was arrested for alleged breach of bail conditions.

During the two-hour debate First Minister Peter Robinson condemned four nights of violence which erupted after Orangemen were prevented from marching on a contested stretch of road in north Belfast on July 12.

But he claimed the Parades Commission - the adjudicating body set up in 1998 to deal with contentious parades - had got it wrong and said the body lacked credibility.

Mr Robinson said: "The Parades Commission took their decision for political reasons. They have an agenda and that agenda is that first of all they want the Orange Institution to engage with them. They want the Orange Institution to engage with local residents and they will take their decisions to further their agenda as opposed to what is right or wrong in a particular set of circumstances of any parade.

"I think the Parades Commission got it completely wrong. I don't believe that the Parades Commission have the respect or credibility in the community to continue in being."

Mr Robinson also called for the Orange Order to engage with an all-party working group led by US diplomat Dr Richard Haas to come up with an alternative to the commission.

Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said Belfast should learn from his native city of Londonderry where thousands of Orangemen took part in Twelfth demonstrations without incident.

He said: "The failure to learn from Derry has resulted in the mess that we have seen over the course of the last number of days."

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