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Whiterock parade in Belfast has been banned from passing through Workman Avenue gates

Parades Commission decision blasted as "bizarre" by DUP MLA William Humphrey

By Rebecca Black

Published 20/06/2016

Police officers at Workmans Avenue junction of the Springfield road , a parades commission determination has ruled that the Whiterock Parade will not pass through the gates for the first time this coming weekend. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Police officers at Workmans Avenue junction of the Springfield road , a parades commission determination has ruled that the Whiterock Parade will not pass through the gates for the first time this coming weekend. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Police officers at Workmans Avenue junction of the Springfield road , a parades commission determination has ruled that the Whiterock Parade will not pass through the gates for the first time this coming weekend. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Police officers at Workmans Avenue junction of the Springfield road , a parades commission determination has ruled that the Whiterock Parade will not pass through the gates for the first time this coming weekend. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Police officers at Workmans Avenue junction of the Springfield road , a parades commission determination has ruled that the Whiterock Parade will not pass through the gates for the first time this coming weekend. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Police officers at Workmans Avenue junction of the Springfield road , a parades commission determination has ruled that the Whiterock Parade will not pass through the gates for the first time this coming weekend. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Police officers at Workmans Avenue junction of the Springfield road , a parades commission determination has ruled that the Whiterock Parade will not pass through the gates for the first time this coming weekend. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Police officers at Workmans Avenue junction of the Springfield road , a parades commission determination has ruled that the Whiterock Parade will not pass through the gates for the first time this coming weekend. Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye
PSNI officers open the Workman Avenue gate during a previous Whiterock parade

The Whiterock parade has been banned from passing through peace line gates at Workman Avenue.

The Parades Commission met on Monday to consider the annual Belfast parade and issued a determination this evening.

In previous years a small number of parade participates were allowed through the gates while the remainder of the parade travelled through the nearby Mackies site.

However this year the entire parade has been re-routed.

Around 950 participants and 16 bands are due to take place in this year's parade on Saturday June 25 which will travel from West Belfast Orange Hall along the Shankill Road, Ainsworth Avenue, Workman Avenue back towards the Shankill Road.

Several parade supporters have voiced their fury about the ruling on social media.

DUP MLA William Humphrey has expressed shock and disappointment at the Parades Commission decision.

Mr Humphrey - who is a member of No 9 District which organise the Whiterock parade - said the decision to reroute it is "bizarre, illogical and unhelpful".

"The Whiterock parade has passed off peacefully in recent years with the Orange Institution fully abiding by previous determinations which restricted the number of participants allowed to pass through the gates," he said.

"It is notable that the only breaches have been by nationalist protesters, some of whom travel a great distance to be offended.

North Belfast MLA William Humphrey has blasted the Parades Commission decision over the Whiterock parade as
North Belfast MLA William Humphrey has blasted the Parades Commission decision over the Whiterock parade as "bizarre"

"I will be discussing this ruling with other members of the Orange Institution and how we might move forward.

"I have already spoken to PSNI representatives.  Given the attempts by some to increase tensions only last night this ruling once again demonstrates how the Parades Commission are part of the problem in parading rather than part of the solution.

"No explanation or rationale has to be provided by the Parades Commission of course as to why they appear happy to reward those who have breached previous determinations."

TUV councillor Jolene Bunting said she is "disgusted" at the decision.

“I am disgusted by this decision," she said.

“In the new peace process Northern Ireland there is much glib talk about shared space but all too often there seems to be no thought given to those to whom no space is given and who see their cultural being relentlessly suppressed.”

The West Belfast UPRG also condemned the decision, criticising it as "short sighted"/

"West Belfast UPRG roundly condemn the short sighted decision making process entered into by the discredited Parades Commission around loyal order parades and their rewarding of Republican residents groups," a spokesman said.

"Their nonsensical decision making has again been highlighted in their decision to prevent loyal orders from accessing Springfield Rd via the gate at Workman Avenue during this years annual Whiterock parade."

The UPRG said local residents from the Ainsworth Community met with the Parades Commission last week, and presented them with a dossier which they have claimed proves Republican protesters breaking the protest determination at the parade last year.

"This ridiculous decision clearly demonstrates why it is absolutely pointless engaging with the Unelected Charades Commission as it is quite clear their bias knows no bounds as they follow their Republican driven agenda," he concluded.

A spokesperson for the Parades Commission said it has received complaints about the conduct of the parade and related protest last year.

“The Commission has determined that no part of the parade may cross the peace lines through the Workman Avenue gates, but should instead proceed in full via the Invest Ni site to the Springfield Road.

"Conditions about paramilitary trappings have also been imposed.

"In reaching its decision, the Commission is mindful of the persistent breaches of determinations particularly in relation to colour parties, flags and emblems. The Commission has also received complaints about conduct of the parade and related protest last year.

"This decision reflects perceptions of paramilitary influences at the interface and is consistent with the approach by statutory agencies in relation to putting victims and survivors needs at the centre of decision making.

"The opening of permanently closed gates of the peace wall without cross community consultation is not in keeping with current policy recommendations. No dialogue about the parade has recently taken place.

"The impacts are escalating tensions at the Springfield Road interface each summer, with community life disturbed over many hours and an extremely high risk of public disorder."

She added: "the Commission continues to urge all parties to engage in dialogue about all aspects of the parade."

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