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29 May 2003 Edition

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Short Strand residents protest provocative parade

Residents of the Short Strand in East Belfast have criticised a proposed Apprentice Boys' parade on Saturday 7 June around the area as "flying in the face of ongoing initiatives" at the interface.

The Apprentice Boys from Tigers Bay in North Belfast have applied to march through the city centre and around the Short Strand in four applications to the Parades Commission, totalling 13 bands and over 500 participants.

Residents met with the Parades Commission on Thursday 22 May asking for this "non traditional parade" to be rerouted away from the nationalist Short Strand.

Sinn Féin councillor for East Belfast, Joe O'Donnell, described the application as "crazy" and said the parade has been fabricated to create sectarian bitterness and to incite people.

"Why do they want to march past St Matthew's Catholic Church three times if this parade is not controversial?" he asked. "The people of this area have no problem with loyal order parades provided they parade where people want to see them, but not in the Short Strand.".

O'Donnell said he hoped the Parades Commission would deal with the application in a sensitive way.
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