Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Is Donegall Street the next Garvaghy Road?

Once again, Northern Ireland appears to be in serious trouble with its community relations.

Undoubtedly, Donegall Street is gearing up to be another Garvaghy Road situation. The situation has gone from a molehill to a mountain in a very short period of time.

The Parades Commission, for its part, appears to be in the business of governing protests and who can protest. There can be little doubt that parading's once-diplomatic decorum has been replaced by a much more virulent appearance, but this response is encroaching on civil rights.

It will get to the stage where more and more parades will be banned, with the resulting trouble an inevitable consequence.

There also appear to be over-the-top protests from the 'other side of the street', which are, arguably, causing more angst than the marchers themselves.

The Parades Commission steps in too early and too harshly.

The commission also seems to be making permanent decisions and not reviewing them should tensions on the ground ease.

It is getting to the stage where, if group is offended by a march, the Parades Commission will simply ban it. This policy is untenable and will be disastrous in the long run.

All people - whether they are unionists or republicans, Catholics or Protestants - have the basic, inalienable human right which is putting one leg in front of the other.

MAURICE FITZGERALD

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