Belfast Telegraph

Loyalists protesters to target Parades Commission members

By Ciaran Barnes

Hardline loyalists want to protest outside the homes of Parades Commission members who banned the Orange Order from marching past the Ardoyne shops on July 12.

With the weekly Saturday rally at Woodvale seeing a drop in numbers, plans are being drawn up to take future demonstrations to the front doors of the seven strong Parades Commission.

Many of the commission's membership live in unionist areas and their houses could be picketed easily.

Protest organisers want loyalist bands to be involved and play music during the rallies.

They argue that because they will not be technically parading the PSNI will be unable to deem the demonstrations illegal.

One tough-talking memo, seen by Sunday Life, states: “Why do we not take the protests to the front doors of the members of the Parades Commission?

“Organise a parade for outside their homes, their business addresses, outside their relatives' homes.

“Bring it home to them how it feels to be treated as 2nd class citizens.”

“The Orange Order cannot simply walk up to police lines, hand in letters of protest and walk away again,” adds the document.

“There must be a structure and strategy to this issue — there must be a Plan B.”

Crucially though, the Parades Commission picket plan has yet to win the support of either the Orange Order or the PUP which has been at the forefront of the Woodvale protest.

Orange Order chaplain Mervyn Gibson (below) said: “That isn't the official position of the Orange Order.”

The PUP’s Winston Irvine, who made yesterday’s keynote speech at the Woodvale protests, said: “I do know there are a number of ideas being discussed — but that hasn’t been one.

“I would support a peaceful and effective campaign to bring an end to the Parades Commission and see the Orange brethren and accompanying bands road home.

“But as I said it needs to be peaceful and it needs to be effective — but personally I don’t think that’s the way forward.”

Numbers have dwindled since the Orange Order run protests began last month with around 1,000 at yesterday’s protest — compared to 5,000 a fortnight ago.

Following speeches at yesterday’s rally, organisers replaced playing the national anthem with Labi Siffre’s ‘Something Inside So Strong’ - which has also been adopted by republicans as an unofficial anthem.

Several women also took to the mic calling in support of the DUP’s Ruth Patterson — charged with sending a grossly offensive communication on Friday. Orange Order members also re-emphasised calls to scrap the parades body.

Last month Parades Commissioner and ex-RUC Superintendent Frances Nolan told of her hurt at the criticism the group has suffered since the Ardoyne ruling.

The retired policewoman — whose father was in the Orange Order — said: “I never thought I would face a situation where certain public figures in Northern Ireland, would accuse me of being in an organisation that is both ‘culturally anti-Protestant and institutionally corrupt'.

“I take great personal offence at these unfounded allegations.”

Despite Mrs Nolan's calls for calm, unionist politicians clashed again with the Parades Commission during the week.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell called on commissioner Robin Percvial to resign over comments he made about Troubles deaths in Derry.

The commission distanced itself from the remarks describing them as Mr Percival's “personal views”.

The spat was another reminder of the depth of ill-feeling towards the Parades Commission within the unionist community.

cbarnes@sundaylife.co.uk

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