Second bid for band at Ardoyne march is rejected
The Parades Commission has refused to allow an alternative flute band to join the Apprentice Boys as they pass the flashpoint Ardoyne shops this Saturday.
In a second application, the Apprentice Boys requested that Hillview Flute Band accompany a feeder parade along Ardoyne Road.
The Commission previously ruled that no band should accompany Ligoniel Walker Club on this leg of the route. This occurred after the initial application had been made for the controversial Shankill Star Flute Band to take part. The band traditionally carries a banner commemorating UVF killer Brian Robinson.
A spokesman for the Parades Commission said that while it was not aware that the Hillview Flute Band had any record of behaviour that could cause concern, it was standing by its original determination — that only the club should proceed along the contentious part of the route.
The ruling stated that the Commission was trying to “balance competing rights and to allow the parade to proceed while ensuring that tensions were minimised as far as possible”.
Meanwhile, proposed laws on parades have been redrawn in response to a public outcry over claims they undermined people’s right to assemble.
The Parades Bill was primarily aimed at changing how contentious processions were managed but also encompassed all public meetings in the region.
With organisers required to give 37 days’ notice of an event under the draft legislation, critics warned that the regulations would effectively ban impromptu rallies that had nothing to do with the traditional marching season.
After reviewing responses to a public consultation on the proposals, First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness conceded that preventing such events was never the intention of the Bill.
While the announcement should assuage the controversy over the 37-day rule, the Bill’s passage to law is still not guaranteed as the Orange Order has rejected it outright and refused to even participate in the consultation process.
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson, who was joint chair of the working group, welcomed the amendments. He said the changes ensured that vintage car rallies and other public meetings such as church open-airs will no longer be covered by the Bill.