Belfast Telegraph

Loyalist band organisers slam route ruling by parades body

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Organisers of a contentious loyalist band parade in north Belfast have vowed to challenge a Parades Commission determination which restricts its route.

The Pride of Ardoyne Flute Band has been given the go-ahead for a march to mark its 40th anniversary on May 5. However, plans to retrace the course of its first-ever parade through the nationalist Oldpark area have been rejected by the commission.

In a determination published last night the commission cited “demographic changes” as reason for the refusal.

“We slam the decision that the Parades Commission has made,” said Winstone Ervine, a spokesman for the North and West Belfast Parades Forum.

“We feel that it is totally unfair and unjust and represents the complete double standard approach to the unionist community’s cultural expression.”

It is understood bandsmen were meeting last night to discuss their options.

Meanwhile, the Parades Commission also expressed concern about the lack of information provided by the organisers.

The body said: “The commission is concerned at the inadequacy of the information given on the Form 11/1 submitted and by the failure of the organiser — despite repeated requests — to furnish necessary information to the commission. This includes a lack of details given of the accompanying bands, participants or supporters on the form.”

The PSNI have been notified of nine participating bands. However, a note on the Pride of Ardoyne website said there was an “open invitation” to all bands.

It read: “To mark this 40th anniversary the band is planning to hold a parade on Saturday 5th May 2012 through the streets of Alliance, Glenbryn and Wheatfield. This parade is an open invitation to all bands. Let the republican bigots see that no matter what violence or threats, we will not cave in to it.”

Last night SDLP councillor in Oldpark, Nichola Mallon welcomed the decision.

She said: “A number of constituents had contacted me and expressed concerns about the original route. So, in our view this is a welcome determination.

“We are approaching a highly sensitive part of the year and in 2012 we have a number of additional parades. We would urge people to be very calm and rational and to show sensitivity.”

Sinn Féin councillor Gerard McCabe said: “I welcome the determination that prevents the parade from going through areas where it is clearly not wanted.”

Background

The Pride of Ardoyne Flute Band’s 40th anniversary parade is the first contentious parade in Belfast this year.

Nationalists in areas such as Cliftondene and Deerpark Road raised serious objections over the original intended route.

The Parades Commission determination which ruled it should not proceed past the junction of Oldpark Road and Joanmount Park and the junction of Alliance Drive and Alliance Gardens has outraged loyalists.

Last year rioting erupted at the nearby Ardoyne shops after an Orange Order Twelfth of July parade.

Belfast Telegraph

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