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Friday, 7 July, 2000, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Orangemen to hold Ormeau rally
Change of rally venue in protest at march re-route
Change of rally venue in protest at march re-route
The Northern Ireland Parades Commission has accepted an application from Belfast Orangemen to hold their main 12 July rally in the Ormeau Park.

The Orangemen usually hold their Twelfth demonstration in another part of the city, but had applied to move it to Ormeau in protest at the re-routing of a feeder parade to the main Belfast march.

The Parades Commission has banned the local Ballynafeigh Orange lodge from marching from the upper Ormeau Road into the mainly nationalist lower Ormeau Road for the second year running.

Belfast Orange County Grand Master Dawson Baillie said that the main Belfast parade would proceed to the Ormeau Park on 12 July for a second year to support the Ballynafeigh lodge.

After the Ormeau Orange parade was barred from the lower Ormeau area last year, senior Orangemen promised that never again would a lodge or district be prevented from taking part in the city's main demonstration.

Last year the traditional field rally site at Edenderry was abandoned by the Order when the Belfast Orangemen switched their venue to the park in protest at the re-routing.

Thousands marched through Belfast to the park as a show of solidarity with the Ballynafeigh District lodge which says its civil and religious right to march through the lower Ormeau area has been denied.

The 12 July parades across Northern Ireland mark the main date in the Protestant marching calendar.

Tension is already rising over an earlier decision to prevent the Drumcree march in Portadown from entering the nationalist Garvaghy Road area of the town, the flashpoint for previous years' violence.

Earlier, there had been speculation that members of the Orange Order in Belfast were considering holding five major rallies instead of just one.

'Possibility of disorder'

In its ruling on the Ormeau parade, on Thursday, the commission said it had taken the decision to impose restrictions because it was "still not aware of any discussions or efforts to reach a consensus" on Orange parades in the Ormeau area.

It said it was aware of the "very real possibility" of public disorder and damage to property if the parade was to proceed as notified and would have a detrimental impact on community relations.


LOCC spokesman Gerard Rice:
Gerard Rice: "People just want calm"
The commission ruled that a 20-hour counter protest planned by the nationalist Lower Ormeau Concerned Community residents group on 12 July would be restricted to one hour between 0600 - 0700 BST.

Spokesman for the LOCC, Gerard Rice, said the commission's decision was "the only one possible in the circumstances given the Parades Commission's own criteria for assessing contentious sectarian parades".

'Disbelief'

However, in west Belfast the commission ruled that a parade that nationalists wanted to be banned from the Springfield Road interface area in west Belfast, could go ahead.

The nationlist Springfield Residents Action Group has said it is "disgusted" at the decision.

When a Belfast Orange lodge marched on the same stretch of the Springfield Road two weeks ago there were scuffles between nationalist and loyalist protesters and the police.

The residents had made delegations to the Parades Commission asking for future parades to be re-routed away from the area after a loyalist paramilitary colour party took part in the march.

The Parades Commission was established in 1997 to determine whether conditions, or restrictions, should be placed on contentious parades in Northern Ireland.

The 12 July marches celebrate the victory in 1690 of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne.

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See also:

06 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Ban on flashpoint Orange march
05 Jul 99 | UK
Can Drumcree be resolved?
13 Jul 99 | Northern Ireland
Parades Commission takes flak
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