Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 28 May 2016

Order can't cherry pick rulings

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 03/10/2013

The Orange Order may be disappointed, even angry, after the Parades Commission rejected a parade past Ardoyne in north Belfast on Saturday. Yet it is difficult to fault the logic of commission in reaching its decision. The Order has failed to resume dialogue with local nationalist residents – the banning of this parade on the Twelfth led to prolonged and serious violence and there are frequent breaches of parading determinations at the so-called civil rights camp at Twaddell Avenue.

While this newspaper holds no brief against the Orange Order or its culture, it is clear the offer of dialogue with nationalist residents if the parade was allowed to proceed on Saturday was never likely to succeed. The parade was likely to further fuel tensions in an already volatile interface which would have made talks impossible.

No doubt Dr Richard Haass is a very interested observer of this impasse, given his brief is – among other things – to find a way of dealing with contentious parades. It is an issue which local politicians have been unwilling to approach in positive manner, instead marking out their own territory and voicing the views of their most truculent supporters. Dr Haass knows that he will have to take some tough decisions which will likely antagonise both the Order and some of the more provocative nationalist residents' groups.

But as our recent poll showed, most people believe that the law and the determinations of the Parades Commission must be obeyed. To do otherwise is to march down the road towards anarchy.

And that is what must happen with whatever solution Dr Haass comes up with. Politicians cannot cherry pick those recommendations they like if the talks process is to have any credibility.

There is no doubting the resolution of those who want to march past Ardoyne, but this stand-off is costing £50,000 a day to police and does nothing to further the reputation of the Orange Order or to accomplish its objectives.

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