12 August 1999 Edition
The Parades Commission's decision to allow the 14 August Apprentice Boys' parade to go ahead along the nationalist Ormeau Road shows that it is yet again bending over backwards to accommodate the Loyal Orders and reward their unsatisfactory attempts at dialogue.
The decision was justified by the Parades Commission on the grounds that the Apprentice Boys had engaged in a series of meetings with the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community (LOCC), and although these meetings have been described as useful by the LOCC, the residents' group says that the issue was far from being resolved.
Gerard Rice, spokesperson for the LOCC, reacted angrily to the decision: ``The Parades Commission is clearly trying to send the message that dialogue, no matter how shallow and meaningless, will result in a parade for the Loyal Orders. That is absolutely unacceptable to our community and we remain totally opposed to this parade.''
``Alistair Graham and others met at Downing Street last week. Obviously the Ormeau Road decision was politically influenced, it has severe repercussions for other areas like Dunloy and Bellaghy - this decision needs to be resisted,'' said Breandán Mac Cionnaith spokesperson for the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition, on 10 August.
Martin McGuinness has called on the leadership of the Apprentice Boys in Derry to ``reconsider their decision to reject the proposal from the Bogside Residents' Group, which if accepted, would have resolved the Derry March and the feeder parades in Lower Ormeau, Lurgan, and Newtownbutler.
``The people of Derry are prepared to accommodate the Apprentice Boys marching through the city on Saturday. They should be prepared to accommodate the wishes of the residents in other areas.''
The Apprentice Boys had rejected a compromise proposal put forward by LOCC which would have allowed them to march along the Ormeau Bridge onto the top part of the Lower Ormeau Road and then turn left along Stranmillis Embankment, thereby avoiding the rest of the Lower Ormeau area.
The rejection of this compromise shows that not only does the nationalist community not have the right to say no to these ``sectarian coat trailing exercises'', but any attempt made by residents' groups to resolve the issue through dialogue will either fall on deaf ears or be totally rejected.
Direct meetings between the LOCC and the Apprentice Boys in recent weeks have shown that the Apprentice Boys are willing to engage in dialogue but have a fixed position and refuse to move towards compromise or resolution of the problem. Nevertheless, they are commended and rewarded for any show of movement, no matter how insignificant, with the opportunity to parade through nationalist areas.
The LOCC has called for mass mobilisation of nationalists on the Ormeau Road at two planned protests on Friday night from 7pm to 9pm and on Saturday morning before the parade begins. Michael Goodman of the LOCC said: ``We are planning a peaceful, dignified and determined protest. Nationalists have to stand up and be counted on this issue.''
Meanwhile a delegation of Sinn Féin councillors, including Lower Ormeau Councillor Seán Hayes, is to meet the Parades Commission in Belfast today, Thursday 12 August.
The delegation will outline the party's opposition to the Parades Commission's decision to allow the Apprentice Boys to parade along the Lower Ormeau Road and call for the decision to be reversed.
Included in the delegation will be the party's leader on Belfast City Council, Sean Hayes who represents South Belfast as well as Ita Gray and Danny Lavery.
Kilkeel loyalists adopt new ``tolerant'' stance?
By Roisin Cox
In an attempt to impress the Parades Commission and demonstrate how ``unbigoted'' they are, loyalists in Kilkeel, County Down, have said that they will now tolerate the traditional 15 August Ancient Order of Hibernians parade through the town.
The loyalists are also claiming that they are being persecuted by the Parades Commission and claim that Kilkeel is a mirror image of banned Orange parades throughout the north.
David Jones, spokesperson for the Portadown District Orange Lodge, who is supporting the Kilkeel loyalists said: ``This shows the other side of the spectrum. In Portadown we are in the position of trying to get a parade along the Garvaghy Road and Kilkeel does present that mirror image, whereby you have a Protestant town with a Catholic parade.''
The new uncharacteristically ``tolerant'' stance, however, comes in light of the growing number of attacks by loyalists on nationalists in Kilkeel in recent weeks. The attacks followed a loyalist parade through the town in July.
In an attempt to further inflame an already tense situation, Kilkeel loyalists have invited Orangemen from throughout the Six Counties to a protest on 15 August to symbolically block the road before the AOH parade passes through Kilkeel. This protest will mean that hundreds if not thousands of Orangemen will congregate in Kilkeel, possibly leading to disturbances.
Restrictions placed on Newtownbutler parade
The Parades Commission has placed restrictions on an Orange parade through Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh, on 15 August due to the fact that the Orange Order refused to engage in dialogue in order to resolve the parades dispute.
The Parades Commission's determination stated: ``Having taken further evidence, we acknowledge that the Loyal Orders did not participate in the proposed process and that their own public notice initiative fell short of the genuine engagement we advocated''.
The decision has been welcomed by the Newtownbutler Residents Association (NARA), who said that it was time the local Royal Black Perceptory and Orange Order questioned their leadership as the current leaders were not taking the organisations anywhere with their adamant refusal to engage in dialogue.
The spokesperson said: ``Because of their intransigence in speaking to us their parades are being curtailed''.
Disbelief at Lurgan parade decision
The Parades Commission decision to allow an Apprentice Boys parade up and down William Street in Lurgan has been described by Sinn Féin Assembly member Dara O'Hagan as unbelievable.
The Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann said: ``There has been no consultation with local residents. There can be no possible justification for this parade being allowed to march. It is designed to cause the maximum offence possible.''
``The people of William Street are furious that the Parades Commission is allowing this march to proceed up and then back down their street.''