Friday 24 October 2014

Hopes that parades in North will work with no violence

David Young

Published 12/07/2014 | 02:30

A loyalist bonfire on the outskirts of Antrim town

Police and Orangemen have expressed cautious optimism that today's Twelfth of July commemorations in Belfast will pass off without a repeat of the serious violence that has marred the event in the past.

That is despite a judge rejecting a legal challenge against a decision to restrict a contentious parade passing a nationalist area of Belfast at the close of today's events.

Dismissing the bid to judicially review the Parades Commission determination prohibiting Orangemen walking along a stretch of the city's Crumlin Road, Justice Weir implored both sides of the dispute to come to a local accommodation over the long-standing impasse.

"Neither the Parades Commission nor the courts are going to be able to solve these issues," he told Belfast High Court.

"These are issues that require a degree of political leadership and courage."

The judge said if a fraction of the energy currently spent pursuing challenges in court or "going on TV" to argue the matter was diverted to sitting down with "some clean sheets of paper and sharp pencils" to hammer out an agreement then a resolution would be reached more quickly.

Up to 50 protest parades are planned by the Orange Order across Northern Ireland tomorrow evening to voice anger at the determination by the Parades Commission to prevent Orangemen passing a section of the Crumlin Road that sits adjacent to the nationalist Ardoyne neighbourhood.

While the bitter dispute over the contentious parade in north Belfast remains unresolved, considerable efforts have been undertaken to ensure community tensions, that have erupted into major rioting in previous years, are channelled in a peaceful manner.

Flashpoint

At the flashpoint in the unionist Woodvale area where the parade will be stopped by police from progressing to the Crumlin Road, Orange leaders have pledged that protest activity will be well marshalled and participants will disperse promptly at the conclusion. A lack of effective marshalling last year was identified as one of the factors that led to violence.

With the total bill for policing parades and flags disputes in Northern Ireland over the last 20 months standing at around £55m (€67m), there is a financial imperative in avoiding further trouble this year.

In rejecting the challenge brought by an anonymous supporter of the parade who was angered by the restrictions, Justice Weir said the commission had not acted unreasonably.

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