Belfast Telegraph

Orange Order 'disgusted' at Parades Commission decision to bar Whiterock parade from Workman Avenue gates

By Rebecca Black

The Orange Order has described a decision to bar the annual Whiterock parade from passing through the Workman Avenue peaceline gates as "outrageous" and "ill-judged".

The parade, which takes place on Saturday, has been told it may not pass through the peaceline gates earlier this week.

Around 950 participants and 16 bands are due to take place in this year's parade on Saturday June 25 which will travel from West Belfast Orange Hall along the Shankill Road, Ainsworth Avenue, Workman Avenue back towards the Shankill Road.

Over the last number of years a small group from the head of the parade has been allowed to travel through the gates while the remainder of the parade goes through the site of the former Mackies factory.

But this year the Parades Commission has ruled that none of the parade can go through the gates.

Whiterock parade in Belfast has been banned from passing through Workman Avenue gates

The west Belfast parade is organised by the Orange Order's No. 9 District Lodge.

The officers and members of that lodge have issued a statement to say they are "repulsed and appalled by yet another outrageous and ill-judged determination re their annual Whiterock Parade".

"It is clear that the Parades Commission has once again rewarded the intransigence of Republicans," they said.

"Only last year senior Republicans breached their protest determination and have subsequently yet again been rewarded for their wrong doing. The Parades Commission continues to demonstrate that it is not part of the solution, but is increasingly part of the problem around parading in Northern Ireland." 

The statement added that officers have been working to seek a resolution to the situation.

"Throughout the past 10 years, No. 9 District has abided by a series of unpalatable determinations for both the Whiterock Parade and 12th July," they said.

"The District will continue to work with Grand Lodge, Belfast County Lodge and our political representatives, to seek a just and equitable solution to the parading issue on the Springfield Road, in the interests of community relations.

"This determination does not provide that."

A spokesperson for the Parades Commission said it has received complaints about the conduct of the parade and related protest last year.

“The Commission has determined that no part of the parade may cross the peace lines through the Workman Avenue gates, but should instead proceed in full via the Invest Ni site to the Springfield Road.

"Conditions about paramilitary trappings have also been imposed.

"In reaching its decision, the Commission is mindful of the persistent breaches of determinations particularly in relation to colour parties, flags and emblems. The Commission has also received complaints about conduct of the parade and related protest last year.

"This decision reflects perceptions of paramilitary influences at the interface and is consistent with the approach by statutory agencies in relation to putting victims and survivors needs at the centre of decision making.

"The opening of permanently closed gates of the peace wall without cross community consultation is not in keeping with current policy recommendations. No dialogue about the parade has recently taken place.

"The impacts are escalating tensions at the Springfield Road interface each summer, with community life disturbed over many hours and an extremely high risk of public disorder."

She added: "the Commission continues to urge all parties to engage in dialogue about all aspects of the parade."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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