Twelfth protests planned over march

The Protestant Orange Order is planning to hold a series of protests in several parts of Belfast at the end of Monday's Twelfth demonstrations.

The protests have been planned in response to a decision by the Parades Commission to place restrictions on an Orange parade in north Belfast.

It is understood Orange Order members are planning to block a number of main roads in and out of Belfast on Monday evening, although its exact plans are unclear.

The decision was taken at a meeting of Orange Order leaders in the city on Thursday night.

Loyalists blocked Ligoniel Road in north Belfast at rush hour for a third day running on Friday in protest at the Parades Commission's decision.

The Twelfth demonstrations are the biggest of the Protestant marching season.

'No bands'

In a statement on Friday, Orange leaders said they were protesting against a Parades Commission ruling which prevents supporters and bands of lodges from Ligoniel being allowed to walk along a contentious return route close to the nationalist Ardoyne area.

Lodges are allowed to walk at that stage near the Ardoyne shops, according to the Parades Commission ruling - but not bands or supporters.

The Orange leaders have called on members of all ten districts in Belfast to show their support at that point by staging demonstrations in various parts of the city.

They say these will continue as long as it takes to ensure not just the lodges, but also their supporters, are able to return safely home.

Orange Order spokesman Nelson McCausland told BBC Newsline on Friday that the Parades Commission's decision was "incomprehensible and indefensible".

"It is a denial of basic human rights that people living in Ballysillan should be denied the right to return to their homes," he said.

Mr McCausland said the protest would be peaceful.

"On Monday evening there will be a demonstration of solidarity by Orange districts throughout Belfast. It will be peaceful, measured, appropriate and dignified," he said.

The MP for north Belfast, the DUP's Nigel Dodds, called on Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy to intervene.

Belfast's senior police commander, Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland, said police were working closely with groups and communities ahead of the marches.

ACC McCausland said issues could not be resolved through a policing solution but by the whole community working together.

"People have a right to march as long as they do it peacefully and within the law," he said.

"They also have a right to protest, peacefully and within the law. The Police Service will do all in its power to facilitate both of these situations."

North Belfast Sinn Fein councillor Eoin O'Broin accused the Orange Order of trying to force the Parades Commission's hand.

"This statement from the Orange Order is clearly threatening and comes in the wake of UDA organised blockades of Ligoniel over the past two nights.

"I do fear that the Order is putting in place a plan in conjunction with unionist paramilitaries to try and force the Parades Commissions hand."


Announcing its decision on Tuesday the commission called for any protests to be peaceful and in proportion to the size of the parade.

It promised if these requirements were met the police presence would be reduced next year.

It said the parade was a "test" of the loyalist and unionist communities to deliver a peaceful procession.

The commission added that the restrictions were to reassure residents that their concerns were being taken seriously.

The Parades Commission was set up in 1997 to make decisions on whether controversial parades should be restricted.

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