16 July 1998 Edition
Parades of Shame
Despite the deaths of three children in Ballymoney the Orange Order still insisted on its sectarian marches in nationalist areas -- and, to the disgust of the whole world, their Drumcree protest which had led to the three deaths.
Their actions show that the Orange Order has no compassion or decency. Their desire to express supremacy over nationalists over-rides all sense of humanity. Even in Rasharkin where Richard, Mark and Jason Quinn were being waked, an Orange parade went ahead and bands played sectarian tunes.
On Belfast's Ormeau Road and elsewhere nationalist residents carried black flags and placards saying `Shame On You' as the Orangemen passed.
Significantly, nationalists have called once again for dialogue with Orangemen who want to march through their areas. But along with calls for dialogue comes a determination to once and for all banish the nightmare of contentious marches. That can only happen if the Orange Order opens itself to talk on the basis of equality.
And the Orange band played on
By Peadar Whelan
Nothing could have been more poignant on the Lower Ormeau Road on Monday 13 July than the sight of intransigent Orange marchers striding past the black flags and banners of the Lower Ormeau residents that declared the Ballynafeigh Orange march a `Parade of Shame'.
It certainly was a parade of shame, exposing the contempt that Orangemen have always had for nationalists.
This time their contempt was all the more stark, coming as it did against the backdrop of the Ballymoney murders.
Since last Monday 6 July when the Parades Commission announced its decision to allow Ballynafeigh Orangemen through the Lower Ormeau tension and fear swept through the area.
In past years residents had been beaten on their own streets and curfewed in their homes as the British government forced the parade through.
On Friday 10 July when the High Court rejected a judicial review taken by the residents the stage seemed set for conflict.
Then on Sunday morning as the devastating news filtered down from Ballymoney the RUC and British army moved in and blocked the Ormeau Road at the Ormeau and Havelock bridges, sealing the area off.
Landrovers blocked the top of every street in the area from 4pm while all the streets on the other side of the road were blocked.
With feelings running high Gerry Adams and LOCC spokespersons Gerard Rice and John Gormley negotiated with the RUC and the NIO and within an hour the RUC pulled away from the immediate area although they kept a presence at both bridges throughout the night.
It was the efforts of nationalists and the LOCC in particular that ensured the events of Sunday didn't turn into a pitched battle on Monday.
What secured the RUC pullout on Sunday was the guarantee given by the LOCC that as a mark of respect for the Quinn brothers any objection to the Ballynafeigh parade would be expressed in a silent, mournful vigil.
And how did Ballynafeigh reciprocate?
The Orangemen observed the restriction that they not play music between the bridges, but their last tune before Ormeau Bridge was No Surrender while their first after Havelock Bridge was the Sash. ``What has changed?'' asked Gerard Rice.
In between the bridges the Lower Ormeau community stood silently. Their silence was an indictment of an institution whose time has come.
Sectarian parades in Armagh
An obscurely worded determination by the Parades Commission allowed the Orange Order to parade through the nationalist Shambles area of Armagh on Monday morning 12 July . The Shambles Railway Street Association (SRSA), a local residents' group, chose not to stage a counter demonstration in light of the child murders in Ballymoney. However they did mount a protest against the Order's return route that evening.
Two hundred residents, many carrying black flags, converged along Railway Street and Longsdale to indicate their opposition to the march. The protest was carried out in complete silence amidst a high RUC presence.
In Keady a number of stewards were attacked and injured by RUC dogs while trying to restrain a number of nationalist protestors during an Orange march through the predominantly nationalist village.
Also in Co Armagh, loyalist band members returning from Scarva in the early hours of Wednesday morning lit fires in Dundalk Street in Newtownhamilton and taunted residents that they would burn them out. Local Assembly member Pat McNamee described it as ``blatant sectarianism and a disgrace in the aftermath of the deaths in Ballymoney''.
`3-Nil...3-Nil' chant shocks protesters
Ardoyne women involved in a black flag protest against an Orange march on Belfast's Crumlin Road were horrified when Orange marchers shouted, `3-Nil, 3-Nil' and `fuck your children' as they accompanied a band making their way up the Crumlin Road on 13 July on their way from the main Belfast march in Edenderry.
As the 25 women stood in silence with black flags one elderly Orangeman walking with an Orangewomen began the atrocious chant as they passed the nationalist women.
Spokesperson for the black flag protesters Kate Murphy told An Phoblacht of their shock. ``We couldn't believe it at first. Even some of the RUC who had moved us back seemed stunned. What goes on in these people's minds? It was similar to the Ormeau Road six years ago. There they were, one band and a few elderly Orangemen and women heading up the Crumlin Road when this Orangeman started chanting. How do you reason with this racism?''