Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Orange Order's threat of civil disobedience is wrong, says man who advised Nigel Dodds

Wallace Thompson
DUP William Humpries and Nelson McCausland with Leading Orangemen George Chittick and William Mawhinney address the protesters at the Woodvale Protest.
DUP William Humpries and Nelson McCausland with Leading Orangemen George Chittick and William Mawhinney address the protesters at the Woodvale Protest.

A member of the Independent Orange Order has criticised brethren in north Belfast for threatening civil disobedience.

Wallace Thompson (below), secretary of the Evangelical Protestant Society, said that a spiritual perspective was needed in the current climate.

He took to the social networking site Facebook to air his views following an open air service that took place at Twaddell Avenue on Sunday.

"I understand and share the frustration that the three Ligoniel lodges have not been allowed to complete their return home, and I have no problem with peaceful protests, but there is absolutely no justification or biblical mandate for civil disobedience," he wrote.

Mr Thompson, a former adviser to Nigel Dodds, is also Worshipful Master of Ballymacarrett Purple Star ILOL Number 8 in the breakaway Independent Orange Order. He is also chairman of the Caleb Foundation, an evangelical lobbying organisation.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, he said clarification was needed over what 'civil disobedience' actually means.

"In my opinion, civil disobedience means refusing to pay your rates, for example, so we need to know what they mean when they talk about civil disobedience," he said.

"There needs to be a more spiritual approach and rather than ratcheting up tension the Orange Order should rally its people to prayer.

"I would be in favour of dialogue to sort out this situation."

Mr Thompson was speaking after an open air service of Thanksgiving on Sunday which attracted more than 200 people.

It followed a protest rally on Saturday during which senior Orangeman William Mawhinney said civil disobedience was on the cards.

Standing beside him were North Belfast DUP MLA Nelson McCausland and the PUP's Winston Irvine.

Yesterday, Mr McCausland said: "Up until now at Twaddell and what remains is that every protest should be peaceful and legal. And if you look at them over the last 80 days they have been consistently peaceful. If people continue to be peaceful and legal, I'm right behind them."

Mr Irvine said Mr Mawhinney was "simply pointing out a number of options that people have open to themselves in any given situation of this nature."

"Our application for a morning parade to finish the annual Twelfth of July parade in North Belfast on a quiet Saturday morning takes five minutes of toleration," he said.

"That's the proposal on the table, that's our decision and we want to see a peaceful resolution."

However, Northern Ireland Conservatives' co-chair Trevor Ringland described the call to 'upscale' protests as "irresponsible".

BACKGROUND

The Parades Commission ruled that the Orange Order could march past Ardoyne shops on the Crumlin Road on the morning of July 12 but could not use the same return route in the afternoon. There were four nights of violence after the parade was banned from using a stretch of road separating loyalist and nationalist communities. In a ruling, it said: "On the outward parade, Ligoniel Combine and the accompanying bands and supporters shall not process that part of the notified route between the junction of Woodvale Parade and Woodvale Road and the junction of Hesketh Road and Crumlin Road."

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