Dodds: Parades Commission ‘should resign’ over ruling

Posted By: June 13, 2015

Claire Simpson. Irish News ( Belfast). June 12, 2015

DUP MP Nigel Dodds has called on the Parades Commission to resign after it considered banning music from outside a north Belfast Orange hall during next Friday’s Tour of the North parade.

Restrictions have again been placed on the controversial parade, which passes St Patrick’s Catholic Church on Donegall Street in Belfast – the scene of previous disorder.

Thousands of Orangemen and supporters take part in the annual parade, which is often seen a precursor to the July 12 marches.

The route of the parade alternates every other year. On odd date years, including this year, the route is viewed as less contentious and does not pass the Duncairn Gardens interface.

The commission determined that marchers should only play a single drumbeat between the junction of the Westlink and Clifton Street, and the junction of Union Street and Donegall Street.

The commission said the distance over which bands can only play a single drumbeat is 43 metres longer than last year and “reflects earshot range from St Patrick’s Church”.

It considered banning all music between the whole length of Clifton Street to Royal Avenue, but decided against what would have been a stricter ruling.

Mr Dodds said it was “clear from the document that the Parades Commission gave serious consideration to banning music being played outside Clifton Street Orange Hall”.

He claimed the commission had “recently invented” the “test of earshot” and accused the body of setting the loyal orders and bandsmen “up for a fall”.

He also criticised the commission’s veiled reference to British royal Prince Charles’s visit to St Patrick’s last month.

In the determination, the commission said it considered “the increased fostering of respect for the Church building upon recent high profile events there”.

Mr Dodds said the reference was “an utter disgrace”.

“The Royal Family should not have been brought into this issue at all,” he said.

He said the commission expected unionist representatives to manage increasingly “difficult situations”.

“This pattern of behaviour means they should be gone. They do not have the honour to do the decent thing themselves so the Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, should ask them all for their resignations,” he said.