Belfast Telegraph

Orange Order say parade will be without incident

By Connla Young

Nationalist residents and the Orange Order say they are not expecting trouble ahead of today’s contentious Whiterock parade.

In previous years the Orange Order parade, which passes through Workman Avenue onto the nationalist Springfield Road, has sparked violent clashes at the west Belfast interface.

Nationalists are bitterly opposed to the parade while Orangemen say they are following a traditional route.

Parades Commission restrictions mean only a small number of Orangemen will be allowed to walk along the disputed section of the parade route. Police last night said they hope to have a “low |key” presence in the area despite several nights of sectarian |rioting in east Belfast earlier this week.

This year there will be two parades on the Springfield Road, with a feeder march making its way from Springmartin Road onto the Springfield Road before joining up with the main procession.

Members of the Upper Springfield Federation of Residents Associations opposed to the feeder parade have applied to the Parades Commission to hold a small protest at the junction of Springmartin Road and Springfield Road.

Meanwhile, the Springfield Residents Action Group will hold a protest at the main parade which will join the Springfield Road at Workman’s Avenue.

Spokesman Sean Murray says he is hopeful the parade will pass off peacefully.

He said: “We have done all we can in terms of dialogue and discussion with the North and West Parades and Cultural Forum.

“We have done everything possible given the context and volatility of the situation.

“Our intention is that the parade passes off peacefully.

“People who live in the locality, on either side of the peace line, have to pick up the pieces and they have a strong desire that it passes off peacefully.

“We are calling for calm in the short term and in the long term we want a resolution.”

Orange Order spokesman Mervyn Gibson said he expects the parade to pass off without incident.

He said: “We don’t envisage any trouble at the Whiterock parade. It passed off peacefully last year and I can’t see why it won’t pass off peacefully this year.”

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay encouraged local groups to continue working together.

He said: “The Whiterock Event will be policed in collaboration with the local community and we will try to ensure the policing operation is as sensitive as it can be in the circumstances.

“I am grateful to everyone who has made a significant effort to manage this event and I would encourage them to continue to work with us to ensure a positive outcome.”

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