The re-routing an Orange parade in east Belfast has been branded an “offensive denial of rights” by the event organisers.
Responding to the Parades Commission determination, the Ravenhill Road Volunteers lodge said the ban on the small parade passing along the Albertbridge and Ravenhill Roads on Saturday afternoon has “caused much anger” within the east Belfast community.
The one-off parade had been organised to unfurl and dedicate a new banner which commemorates the lodge’s origins in the ‘old Lagan Village’ area.
However, the Parades Commission has ruled out a route past the Mountpottinger interface, and along a section of the Ravenhill Road at peak Saturday trading hours.
In a statement, the lodge said: “Ravenhill Road Volunteers LOL 580 has been denied permission to parade our new banner along the Ravenhill Road, the locality where we were formed in 1894, and as is the tradition on such occasions.
“This is an offensive denial of our right to express our religious and cultural identity. It is clear this decision is part of a strategy by the Parades Commission to have future traditional parades in east Belfast re-routed.”
The statement added: “This action has caused much anger amongst many within the east Belfast community, as the feelings, views and concerns of the Protestant community are continually ignored by the Commission. Sadly, the Commission seek to use parading legislation to punish the organisers, rather than be independent and fair adjudicators of public possessions – shame on them.”
The lodge will carry on with its plans to unfurl the banner at Ballymacarrett Orange Hall but will not parade at this time “in the interests of reducing community tensions”.
The statement goes on to say that the lodge will display it banner along the Ravenhill Road “on a date before July 1, 2020”.
• In rejecting the original proposal for the Ravenhill Road Volunteers parade, the Parades Commission determination refers to the need for “major policing operations” during the three annual Orange parades past the Mountpottinger interface.
The commission said that everyday activities of those who live, shop and trade in the area may be “disproportionately disrupted” by the Saturday afternoon timing.
It also states that no information has been provided by the organisers to explain significance of the date and time chosen, and claims it will have a potentially “destabilising effect” on community relations disproportionate to parade’s significance.
The Commission has approved an alternative route along Templemore Avenue which has been rejected.
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