Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

New nationalist residents’ group for the area at centre of parade row

Appeal issued to Orange Order as tensions mount ahead of Twelfth

The Orange Order's annual Tour of the North
The Orange Order's annual Tour of the North

A new nationalist residents’ association has been formed in an area due to host three contentious parades within the next fortnight.

A public meeting is set to take place tomorrow to elect a committee for the fledgling body, named The New Lodge and North Queen Street Concerned Residents in north Belfast.

It will be a separate group from the current Carrick Hill Concerned Residents’ Association, but a spokesman for the new group said the two will work closely.

“Carrick Hill is only a small community and it’s only a small part of the bigger parish,” the spokesman said.

“There are people going to Mass on Saturday nights, sometimes Sunday nights, and parades are causing these people to be kept behind police lines. People aren’t happy, enough is enough.

“This is a generational thing and people have decided to do something about it,” he said.

“People aren’t saying say they don’t want the parade, it’s how they conduct themselves while they are parading. This is a single issue thing, it’s about respect.”

The spokesman said the new body would welcome dialogue with the Orange Order.

There was trouble in the area following the Tour of the North parade on Friday evening.

The march was the first of a series of parades set to pass the church and Carrick Hill area in the coming months.

There will be three such demonstrations in the next two weeks.

The first, a Battle of the Somme commemoration, will pass this Sunday, followed by a similar event on Monday.

On Sunday July 7, a Battle of the Boyne parade is due to take place. There will also be a parade past the church on July 12.

Earlier this month, the Orange Order said bands participating in the parades will play hymns only as they pass St Patrick’s Church.

A heavy police presence was required to keep residents and marchers apart as the parade made its way along North Street towards the Shankill Road on Friday. Two arrests were made.

After the parade had passed an incident involving two senior Sinn Fein politicians took place in Carrick Hill.

The Tour of the North parade has been marred by violent sectarian clashes in previous years.

However, most of the trouble occurred in Ardoyne.

The potential flashpoint of the route has shifted to St Patrick’s Catholic church in Donegall Street after a loyalist band was filmed playing a sectarian song outside the church last Twelfth of July.

Meanwhile, Fr Michael Sheehan, whose St Patrick’s Church is at the centre of the dispute, called on the Parades Commission to review its rulings regarding the forthcoming parades.

At least one band is alleged to have breached the determinations of the Parades Commission on Friday by playing music in the vicinity of the Carrick Hill district.

Fr Sheehan said: “They need to address the fact that determinations are regularly being breached,” he said.

“I don’t know how but they need to do something.”

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