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Peter Robinson: Parades Commission is part of the problem

By Anna Maguire

The Parades Commission has appealed for calm as tensions rise ahead of a flashpoint parade through north Belfast.

The body was under fire on Monday night as First Minister Peter Robinson described it as “part of the problem... rather than the solution”.

His comments follow the commission’s ruling that a contentious parade past an interface at Ardoyne shops on July 12 pass by three hours earlier than usual.

Mr Robinson said: “The ruling issued for the return parade along the Crumlin Road on the Twelfth has satisfied no-one other than dissident republicans.”

The decision — which has also been roundly criticised by the Orange Order and DUP as well as Sinn Fein, who want the march completely rerouted — was the subject of a protest by 100 people in north Belfast on Monday.

Protesters holding placards with the slogan, ‘Shared road or a GARC (Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective) ghetto?’ stood at a junction at Crumlin Road, where they say they will protest every evening at the same time.

They are also angry about a decision by the commission to allow the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) to stage a counter demonstration at 5pm on July 12, an hour after three local Orange lodges are due to pass the Ardoyne shopfronts.

DUP MP for the area Nigel Dodds claimed the Parades Commission has increased the prospect of violence.

Parades Commission chairman Peter Osborne said the body had made genuine attempts to ensure a peaceful Twelfth.

“Where people and organisations have been unable to reach local agreement over parades, the commission has fulfilled its legal obligation to take a decision, balancing rights and promoting sensible ways forward,” he said.

The Orange Order has handed in a letter of protest calling on the Secretary of State Owen Paterson to overturn another decision by the Parades Commission.

The Commission has ruled that 5,000 Orangemen can parade through the mainly nationalist Co Antrim village of Crumlin on the morning of July 12.

However, on their return route the body has said only one local district lodge can return — equating to around 500 lodge members.

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