Belfast Telegraph

Dismay over lack of march dialogue

The Parades Commission has expressed dismay at the lack of dialogue between the Orange Order and nationalist residents ahead of a contentious march in north Belfast.

Imposing restrictions on next Sunday's annual Protestant Reformation commemoration, Commissioners called for an end to the current impasse.

A statement said: "The Commission is disappointed that there has been no direct contact between the parade organiser and the Carrick Hill residents despite there being no inhibitors to this dialogue taking place. Nor has there been any form of representation from Unionist politicians. The Commission expects this to be rectified as soon as possible, in the very near future."

Four bands and 400 participants have been prohibited from playing music when passing a flashpoint at Carrick Hill. The Commission has ruled that only hymns are permitted when passing St Patrick's Catholic church on Donegall Street where violence has broken out during previous parades.

Supporters have also been banned from a contested section between Clifton Street, Donegall Street and Royal Avenue.

Last month the Orange Order revealed it had changed its policy on talking to nationalist residents groups.

The Rev Mervyn Gibson, Orange Order County Grand Chaplain, said: "It is disappointing that parishioners would be protesting at a Sunday service. I wonder what hymns they are objecting to. However, the Parades Commission determination comes as no surprise. They have banned Christian hymns before without justification. There have been quiet conversations before and it appears they were not acceptable."

The Parades Commission said there was the potential for public disorder and damage to community relations if the Reformation march was allowed to proceed without restriction.

Mr Gibson declined to comment on whether the bands would adhere to the ruling.

A counter demonstration organised by the Carrick Hill Residents Committee has also been limited to 100 people.


From Belfast Telegraph