Belfast Telegraph

Parades Commission slammed over Twelfth decision - Consultation with residents could see march pass

The parade has been prevented from passing through the Workman Avenue gates on the Twelfth morning.
The parade has been prevented from passing through the Workman Avenue gates on the Twelfth morning.
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

The Parades Commission has been slammed for again re-routing a Twelfth of July parade in Belfast.

The commission has ruled Whiterock LOL 974 does not proceed through the Workman Avenue gates off the Springfield Road on the morning of the Twelfth and instead is re-routed through the nearby Invest NI site - the former Makie's Factory.

It said it took the decision given "tensions" surrounding the parade stating parade organisers had not engaged with the local nationalist community despite indications coming from it a parade could be feasible.

In their applications to the Parades Commission, organisers stated around 35 were to take part from the Whiterock lodge.

Ulster Unionist Councillor Robert Foster described the decision as a reward for "intransigence".

“This is becoming par for the course for the Parades Commission which gives us no credit or reward whatsoever for abiding by all previous determinations,” he said.

"It has become part of the problem, not part of the solution and I cannot see matters improving until it is disbanded.

“The Parades Commission seems to operate using the principle that if someone dislikes something, then it should be banned. That completely misses the basic point that in any democracy you are very likely to see or hear things with which you may disagree.

“A shared future – by any reasonable definition - means that Orange Parades should be facilitated not prevented. The Orange Order is part of the rich history of Belfast, and the lack of tolerance shown towards the Order is a problem that must be addressed.”

It's the fourth year the parade has been restricted.

The Parades Commission said it restricted the parade after considering its potential for public disorder and its impact on community relations and community life.

In its determination it noted the "tensions" surrounding the parade, in particular at the peace line at Workman Avenue.

It stated the parade organisers had not engaged with the local community in a bid to broker a local agreement.

The Nationalist community in the area, the Parades Commission said, had said an agreement was "feasible" to allow the parade to pass.

The Parades Commission Code of Conduct states if a parade is to "pass through an area where the majority population is from a different tradition, or through an interface area, it would be important for the organiser to take steps to establish a line of communication".

"Efforts should be made to meet reasonable concerns of residents."

The Parades Commission added: "Such an accommodation would build confidence within both communities but requires dialogue between parade organisers and residents' groups."

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