Page last updated at 07:06 GMT, Friday, 24 October 2008 08:06 UK

Conditions on homecoming protest

 The Royal Irish Regiment's homecoming parade in Shrewsbury after returning from Afghanistan. Pic MoD/PA wire
The Royal Irish Regiment's homecoming parade in Shrewsbury after returning from Afghanistan.

The Parades Commission has imposed time conditions on a Sinn Féin demonstration protesting an armed forces homecoming parade in Belfast next month.

The commission said protesters must not leave Bank Street before 1130 BST - organisers wanted to leave at 1200 BST.

It said if it had gone ahead as the organisers planned, there "may be an adverse effect on community relations and potential for public disorder".

The homecoming parade is to start at 1145 BST on 2 November.

The Sinn Féin demonstration must become a static protest 40 metres from the junction of Donegall Place and Donegall Square North and disperse immediately after the parade passes.

The parade is to start outside the gates of RBAI at College Square and end at Oxford Street after heading along Donegall Square North for a City Hall march-past.

In a statement, the commission said it wanted to accommodate the parade and "a legitimate protest in a way which ensures that peace is maintained".

The Parades Commission has simply caved into the demands of Sinn Féin and their decision is a recipe for disaster
Nelson McCausland, DUP

"Sinn Féin's willingness to co-operate and engage with the commission and the PSNI has been a positive contribution to the planning for the event.

"In the same way the MoD has shown a willingness to plan their event in a sensitive manner.

"As a result of discussions, they have made a small alteration to their route and have brought the time of their parade forward."

It said it was aware others were planning alternative protest events.

"These have not been notified to the Parades Commission and if they go ahead they will be acting illegally," it said.

"We would urge those responsible to take account of the overwhelming desire amongst the wider community for a peaceful day on 2 November. Illegal parades or protests are unhelpful and are a matter for the PSNI to deal with."

The decision was condemned by the DUP's Nelson McCausland who said the commission was "pandering to bigotry" and had "handed Donegall Place over to Sinn Féin".

"The Parades Commission has simply caved into the demands of Sinn Féin and their decision is a recipe for disaster," he said.

Sinn Féin MLA Paul Maskey said the party had worked hard to ensure the protest would be "dignified and peaceful".

"We have a right to show our opposition against the oppression of Britain here, in Afghanistan and Iraq."

The commission was set up in 1997 to make decisions on whether or not restrictions should be imposed on controversial parades during Northern Ireland's marching season.


SEE ALSO
Party defends homecoming protest
17 Oct 08 |  Northern Ireland
Council backs armed forces event
22 Aug 08 |  Northern Ireland

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