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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 June 2006, 17:32 GMT 18:32 UK
Peaceful end to contentious march
Police open security gates on the Springfield Road
Police open security gates on the Springfield Road
A contentious Orange Order parade in the Whiterock area of west Belfast has passed off peacefully.

One lodge was allowed onto the mainly nationalist Springfield Road via Workman Avenue, with the main parade going through a former factory site.

Nationalist protesters lined part of the Springfield Road as the parade passed on Saturday.

Senior police officers joined community leaders in praising both sides for ensuring a "successful" outcome.

Chief Superintendents Gary White and David Boultwood also urged communities to continue to work together to ensure the rest of the marching season was peaceful.

"We acknowledge and commend the work carried out on all sides to ensure that the parade passed off without incident," they said in a joint statement.

"Today's success came about as a result of long and detailed planning by police in north and west Belfast in conjunction with the local communities."

Nationalists protested against the parade
Nationalists protested against the parade

Sean Murray, chairman of the Springfield Road Residents Action Group, spoke of relief that the march had passed peacefully but said residents were frustrated by the approach of the Parades Commission.

"There is still deep anger that the Parades Commission first of all allowed a provocative parade to take place on the nationalist Springfield Road and also at their failure to facilitate a nationalist protest along the length of the road," he said.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams praised the Springfield Road community for its '"dignified and disciplined response" to the march.

"The calm, thoughtful and courageous stand was in stark contrast to the disgraceful determination of the Parades Commission which was essentially a surrender to loyalist threats," he said.

The good behaviour of the marchers and supporters this year does not take away from the fact that the Parades Commission effectively rewarded them for their atrocious behaviour last year
Tim Attwood

Councillor Tim Attwood of the SDLP said it had been a "bad decision" by the Parades Commission.

He added: "The good behaviour of the marchers and supporters this year does not take away from the fact that the Parades Commission effectively rewarded them for their atrocious behaviour last year."

Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said he hoped the lesson from the Whiterock parade could be learned by others.

"Congratulations are due to a number of people whose work has contributed to a peaceful Whiterock Parade which, following on from last week's Ardoyne arrangements, could result in a peaceful summer for 2006," he said.

'Dignified parade'

Orange Order spokesman Drew Nelson of the DUP said the parade was a "victory for democracy and a small step on the long road towards full and proper recognition of Protestant cultural rights".

"This was the Orange Order at its best and most dignified," Mr Nelson said.

"It was a hard decision for Number Nine District to limit the numbers walking through the Workman Avenue gates on to the Springfield Road, but nevertheless they were prepared to make sacrifices."

Earlier, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain paid tribute to the work of the Parades Commission in seeking to promote local agreements on marches.

He said last year's Whiterock parade violence had "damaged" Northern Ireland's reputation.

Last year, police officers were attacked with petrol bombs and blast bombs, as well as live rounds during the trouble.

The cost of policing that Whiterock parade and subsequent rioting in a number of loyalist areas was estimated at 3m by the PSNI.

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

Bid to halt Orange parade fails
23 Jun 06 |  Northern Ireland
Order 'may reduce march numbers'
22 Jun 06 |  Northern Ireland
Body will not review march ruling
21 Jun 06 |  Northern Ireland
Order gets city parade go ahead
19 Jun 06 |  Northern Ireland

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