Belfast Telegraph

From Garvaghy Road to Ardoyne, the stand-offs that hit headlines

By Staff Reporter

The Parades Commission took on the thorny issue of marches across Northern Ireland in February 1998 under the Public Processions Act 1998.

Its remit is to monitor public processions and it can impose restrictions on music and re-route parades.

It was formed after violence in the Drumcree area of Portadown hit headlines across the world from July 1995 when police halted an Orange parade as hundreds of nationalist residents staged a sit-down protest on the Garvaghy Road.

It led to a stand-off between brethren and their supporters, and the police. It was banned again in 1996 before being allowed to proceed in 1997.

In July 1998, the then newly formed Parades Commission banned the parade from the Garvaghy Road, sparking 10 days of protests and attacks. Violence in the aftermath led to the death of three young boys in Ballymoney - Jason (8), Mark (9) and Richard Quinn (10) - when their home was petrol bombed by loyalists.

The parade was again banned in 1999, the Parades Commission announced on March 14.

The following day the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition legal advisor Rosemary Nelson was killed in a car bomb in Lurgan, which was claimed by the loyalist paramilitary group, the Red Hand Defenders.

One of the other major difficulties which has faced the Parades Commission was the dispute at the Ardoyne/Twaddell interface in north Belfast.

Nationalist residents objected to an Orange parade proceeding along a section of the Crumlin Road, while brethren remained determined to walk, arguing they passed mainly shop fronts. The impasse resulted in major violence over a number of years.

It culminated in the Twaddell protest camp which was dismantled in 2016 following agreement between the two sides.

However, even though all public parades require permission from the Commission, the vast majority of loyal order marches are non-contentious.

Belfast Telegraph

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