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Parades Commission Determination on Ormeau Road March 13 July 1998



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Text: Parades Commission ... Page Compiled: Fionnuala McKenna

Parades Commission's Determination in relation to
Ballynafeigh District LOL no 10 Parade on the Ormeau Road on 13 July 1998

The following is the decision of the Parades Commission in relation to the above parade.

SECTION 8(l) of the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1998, provides that:

"The Commission may issue a determination in respect of a proposed public procession imposing on the persons organising or taking part in it such conditions as the Commission considers necessary."

We have noted the details provided on Forms 11/1 submitted on 31 May 1998 about the parade proposed by Ballynafeigh District LOL no 10 on 13 July 1998.

We have considered the need to issue a determination as outlined above, against the factors described in our Guidelines document.

Decision

Our broad consideration of parades along the Lower Ormeau Road was outlined in the comprehensive document that issued with our determination in relation to the 13 April Belfast Apprentice Boys Walker Club parade. In that document we said: "Our view is that the best way forward in terms of relieving inter-community tensions arising from disputes at this location is that the ground should be prepared for one or more parades to take place in a peaceful atmosphere along the Lower Ormeau Road in 1998. This will require some degree of time and a considerable degree of effort on the part of each of the loyal orders concerned and on the part of local people. We will therefore make our decisions on individual parades in the light of the effort applied and the atmosphere prevailing at the time. We are, however, so far, encouraged by the positive initial steps taken in this direction by the Belfast Walker Club."

We have little evidence of the 'considerable degree of effort' we were seeking on the part of the loyal orders to prepare the ground for such parades. But we understand that the District Lodge has clearly felt inhibited by the Grand Lodge directive in making a positive response. We applaud the efforts made by the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community to secure dialogue, and of the attempt by the local clergy to establish a forum by which means the loyal orders might address the local community's apprehension about parades.

We also alluded to our intention to make our decisions in the light of the 'atmosphere prevailing at the time'. Since issuing that statement no evidence has emerged to suggest that the Lower Ormeau Community's stance towards parades has shifted. There have however been significant developments which have had a considerable impact on the loyalist community. We have re-routed three loyal order parades away form the Lower Ormeau which means that it is well over a year since a parade passed along that route.

All protests by the loyal orders have been peaceful, dignified and within the law. Second, and perhaps of even more significance to the loyalist community, we have taken a decision to re-route the Drumcree Church Parade away from the Garvaghy Road this year. In that decision we refer to the need to 'break the cycle'. That reference is to the cycle of parades taking place year after year on the Garvaghy Road in the most controversial circumstances. We also refer to the 'cumulative adverse effect on the nationalist community both in Portadown and across Northern Ireland as a whole of successive parades proceeding in the face of such total opposition'.

It would be insensitive of us to ignore the cumulative effect on the loyalist community across Northern Ireland of successive parades being rerouted away from the Lower Ormeau Road particularly when taken in conjunction with the Drumcree decision. We cannot ignore the importance of perceptions in Northern Ireland and there is now a clear emerging sense of deep hurt amongst loyalists which arises from our decisions to reroute. This is in danger of spilling over into a serious law and order situation which is harmful to both communities. We therefore cannot ignore the damaging effect that this will have on relationships within the wider community. Decisions on the Ormeau Road run the risk of acquiring a significance for the loyalist community equal to the significance of the Garvaghy Road's decision for nationalists.

Determination

While not departing from the principles outlined in our earlier document, we have therefore decided on this occasion not to re-route the outward parade by Ballynafeigh District LOL no 1O, but to impose the following conditions on how it will proceed.
a. The organiser shall ensure the entire parade has crossed Havelock Bridge by 8.30 am.
b. No music shall be played between the Ormeau Bridge and Havelock Bridge.
c. The organiser shall ensure that the above conditions are brought to the attention of stewards and parade participants at the assembly point prior to the commencement of the parade.
d. The organiser shall make himself available to police at the assembly point and shall ensure that all directions by police in relation to the parade are quickly obeyed.
2. No conditions are imposed on the notified return journey.


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