Belfast Telegraph

Orange leader's civil disobedience threat 'irresponsible'

By Bob Malcolm

A leading Orangeman has been accused of being "extremely irresponsible" after he called for loyalist protesters to "escalate" their activities in "civil disobedience".

Belfast County Grand Secretary of the Orange Order William Mawhinney, speaking to a crowd of around 500 demonstrators, said: "When the time is right we will probably upscale our protests and that's just what we intend to do, upscale them right up until civil disobedience if that's what it takes.

"The camp and the protests continue as strongly as they ever did from when they first began."

William Mawhinney was flanked by a number of politicians, including Nelson McCausland and William Humphrey of the DUP.

Protests have been staged in the Woodvale area every Saturday since the Twelfth of July parade this year was barred from passing the Ardoyne shops by the Parades Commission.

That parade was stopped returning along part of the Crumlin Road separating loyalist and nationalist communities. Several nights of violence ensued.

The three Ligoniel Lodges had applied to march on Saturday along the part of the route they were banned from marching on July 12, which goes past the Ardoyne shop fronts.

An earlier application for a morning parade was also rejected.

Participants and protesters stopped at police lines in accordance with restrictions imposed by the Parades Commission.

North Belfast SDLP MLA Alban Maginness said Mr Mawhinney's comments were "extremely dangerous and irresponsible". He also said the presence of DUP representatives was "greatly irresponsible".

He said: "They know the dangers of such rhetoric".

Adding there was a very "difficult and volatile" situation in north Belfast and that it was ill-advised to "up the ante" in the manner William Mawhinney had.

Northern Ireland Conservative co-chair, Trevor Ringland, said: "Really, at a time when traders and the law-abiding majority in Belfast are crying out for calm on the streets, this type of rhetoric is unhelpful.

"In fact, Mr Mawhinney is playing into the hands of republicans and Sinn Fein with his statement. I would urge the Orange Order to say something publicly to distance itself from the county grand secretary's comments."

"The situation in north Belfast is difficult, but it is not unsolvable."

Responding to the weekend announcement by Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, that there will be a new Parades Commission appointment process, an Orange Order spokesman said they would shed no tears for the old PC, adding: "Rather than new personnel operating the same failed system, what is urgently required is the replacement of the Public Processions (NI) Act 1998 with a better regulatory mechanism."

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