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Last Updated: Friday, 6 August, 2004, 18:08 GMT 19:08 UK
Parade is barred from area
The Apprentice Boys march is due to take place next week
The Apprentice Boys march is due to take place next week
The Parades Commission has barred a contentious loyal order parade from passing a nationalist area in north Belfast next Saturday.

Nationalists in the Ardoyne area and Sinn Fein had said they would oppose the parade by the Protestant Apprentice Boys through the area.

One band and the Ligoniel Walkers Club had applied to parade past the Ardoyne shops before boarding buses for the main demonstration in Londonderry on 14 August.

The march has passed off without major incident in recent years, but events during the return leg of an Orange Order feeder parade on the Twelfth of July, hardened the mood against any loyal order parade.

On Friday, the commission ruled that the parade was barred from that part of the route between the junction of Crumlin Road and Hesketh Road and the junction of Woodvale Parade and Woodvale Road.

This route would have taken the parade past the Ardoyne shops and nationalist houses.

Once again the threat of republican violence has paid off.
Tommy Cheevers
Apprentice Boys

In its determination, the commission said it was aware that there was "considerable anger" among nationalist residents about a "strongly held perception that the Orange Order threatened disruption across Belfast on 12 July if its evening parade was not permitted to pass to its satisfaction".

"This perception has caused significant damage to the interests of other traditional parades in the area," it said.

"The commission has also taken into account the possibility, that if a large-scale policing operation is required the disruption to the local community and the possible infringement of protected convention rights will increase commensurately."

Afterwards, Tommy Cheevers, spokesman for the Apprentice Boys in Belfast, said: "Once again, the threat of republican violence has paid off.

"And it has wider implications for society here and the peace process when we see that the republican movement does not want a Prod about the place."

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds condemned the decision as "ridiculous".

He said: "This parade takes place at 8.30 o'clock on a Saturday morning and has always passed off peacefully and without incident. There is no logic or reason to the Parades Commission's determination.

"Threats from Sinn Fein and republican residents groups have carried the day."

However, Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly said it was the "only sensible decision" that could have been reached.

"What people might be worried about now is that we have had decisions like this before which have been reversed and people will be monitoring the situation," he said.

"They certainly should not reverse this on the basis of threat and intimidation by loyalists."

SDLP councillor Martin Morgan said it was a "sensible and welcome decision" and appealed for everyone to respect the decision.

"I am appealing to the Apprentice Boys and the Orange Order to enter into dialogue and reach agreement with the residents groups so that in future we can avoid a repeat of the disgraceful scenes of the 12th," he added.

A spokesman for the Bogside Residents' Group in Londonderry, Donncha McNiallais, also welcomed the decision.

He said the group would not be opposing the main demonstration in Londonderry and appealed for everyone to work towards a peaceful day.

Trouble followed a parade in Ardoyne in July

Residents held a public meeting to discuss concerns about the parade after rioting followed an Orange Order parade in the area on 12 July.

More than 20 police officers were injured when nationalist youths clashed with the security forces after supporters of the parade were allowed through the area that day.

The parade had been restricted by the Parades Commission which ruled that only lodge members and marshals could take part in the parade back to Ballysillan as it passed the Ardoyne shops.

The police said they had acted in accordance with the ruling as the parade's supporters were only allowed up the road after the march had passed.

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

BBC NI's Elaine Dunseith reports
The ruling bans the Apprentice Boys feeder parade from passing Ardoyne shops before their journey to Londonderry"

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