Belfast Telegraph

Parades Commission criticised for re-routing west Belfast band march

Comments: Robert Foster
Comments: Robert Foster
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 and West Belfast LOL 739 cannot proceed through the Workman Avenue gates off the Springfield Road on the morning of the Twelfth.

It said it took the decision given "tensions" surrounding the parade, stating that parade organisers had not engaged with the local community despite indications a parade could be possible.

The parade is to proceed through the former Mackie's factory site, now the Invest NI Innovation Factory. There are to be no supporters and only a single drum beat on that part of the route.

In their application to the Parades Commission, organisers stated around 35 were to take part from the Whiterock lodge with another 50 and a band.

Ulster Unionist councillor Robert Foster, who is a member of the west Belfast lodge, 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."

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.

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

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