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Tuesday, July 6, 1999 Published at 07:35 GMT 08:35 UK


Resignation call after march ban

Last year's protest by residents over the Orange parade

A senior Orangeman has called for members of the Northern Ireland Parades Commission to resign after a decision to re-route a contentious march.

The Search for Peace
For the first time the Ballynafeigh Orange Lodge has been prevented from marching past the Ormeau Bridge in Belfast on the Orangemen's traditional marching day, 12 July.

The commission said the march would not be allowed into the mainly nationalist Lower Ormeau Road as there had been no face-to-face talks between Orangemen and residents.

But Executive Officer of the Orange Order, George Patton, accused the commission of being out of touch with reality.

[ image: George Patton:
George Patton: "Parades Commission are anti Orange"
He said the decision showed they had no concept of civil liberties or justice.

"We are very clear that we do not believe that we have to ask permission from anyone to walk the roads of this country," he said.

"I think the Parades Commission are just acting as they have done, they're anti-Orange, end of story.

"I think that the best thing the commissioners could now do is to write a little letter to Mr Blair with two words on it saying I resign."

Orangemen and unionist politicians have reacted angrily to the parade decision.

Mark Devenport on another controversial decision by the Parades Commission
Ballynafeigh Orange Lodge District Master, Noel Liggett, said Orangemen were "considerably disappointed" by the news.

"We actively engaged in dialogue this year and they turned around and said no," he added.

Democratic Unionist Assembly member, Nigel Dodds, was incensed by the ruling. "The Parades Commission has shown itself to be out of touch, out of ideas and it should be thrown out of office," he said.

'Insufficient dialogue'

The Parades Commission ruled that the Ballynafeigh Orange Lodge had not sufficiently engaged in dialogue with the Lower Ormeau Residents Action Group (Lorag) to seek a resolution to the dispute.

Denis Murray in Belfast: "The decision pleased the Catholic residents"
It also said it had serious concerns about the "potential for public disorder or damage to property should this parade proceed along the Lower Ormeau without local accommodation".

It also expressed concern that the residents had notified a protest parade to coincide with the Orange procession. The residents have now scrapped their parade.

Lorag spokesman Gerard Rice urged the Orangemen to respond to repeated calls for dialogue from the residents.

Ireland Correspondent Tom Coulter: "There will be a great deal of anger among Orange circles"
Other Orange lodges have said they will march to the Ormeau Bridge with their Ballynafeigh brethren to show solidarity.

Security sources are hoping that any protest will be peaceful.

The Orangemen's aim had been to march from their hall in Ballynafeigh and through the Lower Ormeau Road to join the main Orange parade in Belfast city centre.

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