We Say
Parades Commission decision the only sensible option left

With some justification, this newspaper has chided the Parades Commission for failing to get tough with the Orange Order who play fast and loose with Commission restrictions on their outings.

For some time, nationalists have been forced to grin and bear the sectarian showboating of kick-the-Pope-bands whose loyalty is to the lowest-priced lager rather than to the victor of some long-forgotten skirmish between rival royals.

In many cases, outrageous breaches of Parades Commission restrictions have resulted in no more than a slap on the wrist for bandsmen who get their kicks from dressing up like paramilitary thugs, complete with dark glasses, combat gear, berets and — lest there be any confusion — banners pledging allegiance to the outlawed UVF and UFF.

By turning a blind eye to the coat-dragging and provocative behaviour of loyalist bandsmen, the Parades Commission may have thought it was opting for the lesser of two evils. Better to have a parade proceed in peace past nationalist homes than for the PSNI to enforce the letter of the law.

The reality is, however, that the loyalist credo is to take a mile when a yard is proffered.

Thus, rather than trying to seek dialogue with their nationalist neighbours, the Orange Order who have breached the Parades Commission rules return to their annual stomping ground each year with an even more belligerent attitude.

There was no contrition from loyalists for the decision to allow a sectarian serial killer to lead the Billy Boys along the Springfield Road last year. Instead, the bandsmen had the audacity, once again, to refuse to speak to the long-suffering nationalists of the Springfield Road... as if they had committed some unspeakable offence.

It was high time for the Parades Commission to adopt the same stance at Springfield which it has adopted at Garvaghy. Orangemen who won't speak to their neighbours don't deserve to be allowed to hem them into their homes in the name of Ulster culture.

Ian Paisley and David Trimble have announced that they are making the Orange right to march past Catholic homes on the Springfield Road their number one priority as the Twelfth approaches. May we respectfully suggest that, to use an Ulsterism, they catch themselves on.

All eyes on Lisburn City Council
All eyes will be on Lisburn City Council today as it holds it AGM.
If Tuesday’s monthy meeting is anything to go by then we can expect a heated exchange if – as expected – unionists carve up the Mayor and deputy Mayor posts as well as the chairs of committees between them. This is what happened during last year’s AGM. Since then the controversial AGM has been raised at both the Dail and Westminister and with their two MEPs Sinn Féin have promised to raise the Council’s ‘equality’ practices in Europe.

A representative of the Irish government will also be in attendance today to monitor what passes for Council business in the last Council in the North which is refusing to work the D’Hondt system, whereby posts are handed out in relation to proportionality.

Besides the Irish government official, former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alex Maskey, will also be in the public gallery. During his term in office two years ago the South Belfast MLA opened the Mayor’s Parlour to all communities and was seen as someone who extended the hand of friendship to groups and individuals from throughout the city. This is something that Lisburn City Council should learn from.

Both Sinn Féin and the SDLP don’t expect any change today with the UUP and the DUP – ahead of next year’s local government election – expected to take the top posts again. During their campaign to win city status Lisburn Council asked all political parties to back it with its slogan: ‘Lisburn, A City For Everyone’.
This is clearly not the case.

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