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Monday, 17 April, 2000, 20:58 GMT 21:58 UK
Parade restrictions follow tension
Police moved demonstrators from the Apprentice Boys' Ormeau parade route in August 1999
Demonstrators were moved from Ormeau route in 1999
The Parades Commission has placed restrictions on two Belfast parades planned by the Protestant Apprentice Boys and a nationalist marching band.

The commission has banned the Apprentice Boys from marching beyond Belfast's Ormeau Bridge along the mainly nationalist lower Ormeau Road on Easter Monday.

The Protestant loyal order had planned to parade over the Ormeau Bridge to the Havelock Bridge.

Last Easter Monday, Apprentice Boys from the Ballynafeigh district of Belfast were prevented from walking across the Ormeau Bridge, and a protest planned by the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community residents' group (LOCC) was called off.

A few months later, in August, the situation was reversed and police moved anti-parades demonstrators from the road to allow the Apprentice Boys through.

'Lack of commitment to talks'

The commission said it made its latest decision on the flashpoint area "reluctantly" and due in part to the lack of progress made in talks between the Apprentice Boys and Ormeau residents and following "violent scenes" arising from an anti-parades protest.

Tommy Cheevers Apprentice Boys
Tommy Cheevers: "Commission gave into threat"
The commissioners said: "This is the first application from the Apprentice Boys following their parade down the Ormeau Road last August.

"On that occasion the parade passed with dignity but there were violent scenes arising from the unlawful and obstructive protests which the police had to clear.

"It was hoped that the genuine engagement between the parties which led to the parade taking place would continue.

"But the commission is disappointed that the minutes of seven subsequent meetings (involving the two sides) do not show sufficient progress or commitment to finding a way forward."

Tommy Cheevers of the Apprentice Boys said the commission had "given in to the threat of disorder".

LOCC spokesman Gerard Rice
Residents spokesman Gerard Rice: "Right decision"
Spokesman for the LOCC Gerard Rice said the decision was the only one which could have been made.

"The final resolution to the marching issue is very very complex and it's said that the marching issue is a microcosm of the wider political issue here.

"Both the British and Irish governments haven't been able to find a solution. It's a bit much to expect a small delegation from the Apprentice Boys and ourselves to find a resolution," he said.

'Area of increasing sectarian tension'

The commission also imposed route restrictions on a nationalist band parade due to take place in the Whitewell area of north Belfast on Easter Saturday.

The Spirit of Freedom Band and up to 100 marchers had applied to walk along the lower Whitewell Road and part of the Shore Road to the Bawnmore Estate, where an Easter commemoration rally is due to be addressed by Sinn Fein assemblyman Gerry Kelly.

The commissioners said the marchers would not be allowed to pass along a section of the Shore Road, leaving out the middle section of the route, partly because of sectarian tension in the area and partly because of the impact on traffic.

They said: "This is a new nationalist band parade in an area of increasing sectarian tension."

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14 Aug 99 | UK
Parade sparks protest
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