Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein hits out over Orange parades go-ahead

By Chris Thornton
06 July 2004

SINN Fein today attacked a Parades Commission ruling that allows Orangemen to pass nationalist areas in north Belfast on the Twelfth.

The commission approved feeder parades that will pass Ardoyne shops on the Crumlin Road - scene of frequent protests against the parades in recent years.

But the commission warned Orange marchers they were treating the parade as "a significant test" - hinting that bad behaviour could jeopardise the march in future.

It also said it expects the Parades Forum - a unionist body formed to help get approval for last month's contentious Whiterock parade - to engage with Ardoyne residents.

The commission blocked Ballynafeigh Orangemen from entering the lower Ormeau area for the sixth year in a row.

When that parade was banned from crossing the Ormeau Bridge in 1999 the Orange Order moved the Belfast field to Ormeau Park as a protest, but the prospects of significant protests at the site appear to have faded.

In north Belfast the Parades Commission attempted to reduce nationalist objections to the parade by calling for policing levels to be reduced if the protests against the parade were peaceful.

"The violence associated with protests in this area make it more difficult for the commission to challenge any bad behaviour in the parade," their ruling noted.

But Sinn Fein Assembly member Gerry Kelly said the body had made "absolutely the wrong decision".

He said: "People are asking is this body just there to legitimise sectarian marches?"

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