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Monday, 7 August, 2000, 08:15 GMT 09:15 UK
Ruling due on NI parade
Apprentice Boys of Derry
The Belfast march is contentious
The Northern Ireland Parades Commission is expected to to rule on whether a Protestant parade will be allowed to march down a mainly nationalist area of Belfast.

The Apprentice Boys of Derry want to march along the lower Ormeau Road in Belfast before travelling to Londonderry, for the city's annual parade.

The parades commemorate the 1689 relief of Derry from a siege by the forces of the Catholic King James 11.

The marching season has been relatively calm since the violence surrounding a parade at Drumcree, near Portadown, in County Armagh subsided, but there are still underlying tensions.

Last year both the Derry and Belfast parades were given the go-ahead by the commission.

However, there were scuffles and minor injuries in Belfast after nationalists attempted to block the route of the parade.

Anti-loyalist sign in the the lower Ormeau Road
Nationalist residents want loyalist marches re-routed

Talks between the Apprentice Boys and the residents' group in Derry - brokered by the city's Town Centre Management Group - have so far failed to reach agreement over Saturday's parade in the city.

But Further talks are planned in Derry on Wednesday, just three days ahead of the 12 August parade.

The main area of contention involves the so-called feeder parade in Belfast.

A survey of people on the lower Ormeau Road last week suggested more than 90% were opposed to loyal order parades in their area.

A decision from the commission on the main parade in Derry, which skirts the nationalist Bogside area, is expected later in the week.

Agreement sought

Both the Bogside residents and Apprentice Boys have said they want to find agreement on parades.

The Bogside Residents' Group has said that its response to the main Apprentice Boys Parade in the city will be dictated by what happens on the lower Ormeau Road.

Spokesman Donnacha MacNiallais said: "The Ballynafeigh Apprentice Boys are en route to Derry.

"It's not as if this is a parade totally unconnected with the Derry situation.

"And if, as the Apprentice Boys Association will tell you, they exist to commemorate the siege of Derry, what we're saying is that by all means lets have the commemoration of the siege in Derry itself.

"And let the Apprentice Boys get on their buses and come directly to Derry."

Alistair Simpson
Alistair Simpson: Apprentice Boys doing "all they can"
Alistair Simpson, governor of the Apprentice Boys in Derry, said they were doing all they could to make Saturday peaceful.

"I think the people of this city can turn round and say over the last five years that we have been going in the right direction," he said.

"The Apprentice Boys are doing all they can for a peaceful day, not only here but in the rest of Northern Ireland."

In previous years, business leaders in Derry have been successful in helping the two sides come to agreement.

However, last August some businesses were damaged during disturbances in the city centre.

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

The new commissioners were appointed in February under new chairman Tony Holland, a prominent solicitor and former ombudsman.

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See also:

03 Dec 99 | Northern Ireland
The Apprentice Boys' march
08 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Protestant Marches: A line in the sand
04 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
No agreement in parades issue
04 Dec 99 | Northern Ireland
Parade hailed as 'flagship'
17 Aug 99 | Northern Ireland
Derry parades trouble blights investment hopes
16 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Festival to re-enact city siege
02 Nov 99 | Northern Ireland
Derry parades solution 'possible' - residents
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