Belfast Telegraph

Orange parade restrictions 'absurd'

Restrictions on an Orange Order march through a north Belfast flashpoint are absurd, the Protestant religious organisation's leader has said.

The authority which rules on parades has barred the return of three Orange lodges through nationalist Ardoyne.

The pro-union Orange Order's Grand Master Edward Stevenson called on Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers to scrap the Parades Commission.

He said: "The absurdity of preventing three Orange Lodges in Ligoniel from partaking in a dignified parade on their return from the Twelfth celebrations, while rewarding those who engage in violence and go out of their way to be offended by our traditions, has surely sounded the death knell for this charade of a commission."

He told Orangemen at a flagship demonstration in Londonderry that republicans were engaged in a cultural war to erode all symbols of Britishness in Northern Ireland. It followed Belfast City Council's decision last year to restrict the flying of the Union Flag from the City Hall to designated days.

But the Co Tyrone farmer reserved his fiercest criticism for the Parades Commission. Mr Stevenson said: "I call on the Secretary of State to immediately cease offering this unelected quango life support; and finally put it out of its misery - for the good of all in Northern Ireland."

Mr Stevenson told the crowd in Londonderry: "Not content having subjected this province to terror and mayhem through a murderous campaign, and trying their best to rewrite history in an attempt to justify their vile actions, republicans are now engaging in a cultural war to erode all symbols of Britishness from this part of the United Kingdom.

"The shameful decision to strip down the Union Flag from Belfast City Hall, following on from the outrageous naming of a children's play park in Newry after an IRA terrorist, are just some examples of the so-called 'shared future' envisaged by Sinn Fein.

"Such is their disdain for loyal order parades, we even have the disgraceful spectacle of the current Culture Minister at Stormont (Caral Ni Chuilin) - supposed to represent all the people of Northern Ireland - openly protesting against our very presence on the streets of our capital city.

"Surely not only is this a clear breach of the ministerial code, but I would remind Mrs Ni Chuilin that Orangeism is an integral component of the cultural fabric of the Protestant/pro-union community. We are not going to go away."

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