Senior Orangeman says Secretary of State has left loyalists ‘without hope’

Posted By: July 07, 2015

Senior Orangeman says Secretary of State has left loyalists 'without hope'
Loyalist protesters have been at the Twaddell interface for almost two years
Allison Morris. Irish News.( Belfast). Tuesday, July 7, 2015 

Senior Orangeman says Secretary of State has left loyalists 'without hope'
Orangeman the Rev Mervyn Gibson

ORANGE Order leaders have accused Theresa Villiers of leaving loyalists with “no hope” after the Parades Commission banned a controversial parade in north Belfast from returning past a flashpoint for the third year running.

The parades body ruled yesterday that members of the Ligoniel lodges can pass the Ardoyne shopfronts on the Crumlin Road for the outward leg of their Twelfth parade but must once again stop at Woodvale Parade on the evening return route.

In its ruling a spokesman for the commission said the parading conflict in the area – with nightly parades and the protest camp at Twaddell Avenue – had “severe consequences for the local north Belfast communities” and “heightened tensions”.

A unionist unity project, launched in 2014 and promising a ‘graduated response’ in dealing with the issue of parading, has failed to produce any solution in the last 12 months.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly welcomed the determination saying “the ongoing presence of Camp Twaddell has exacerbated tensions in the area”. 

However, Orange Order grand chaplain Mervyn Gibson said the commission had “lost all perspective”. 

“There’s disappointment but no surprise at this determination. We’ll be talking to the local lodges and supporters in the coming days to discuss where we go from here”, Rev Gibson said. 

“I think people are angry. We had a peaceful Twelfth last year and they are angry that after all that hard work this determination has been made.

“People are exasperated, but they are exasperated with the Secretary of State. She has responsibility for the Parades Commission and she has to do something, by ignoring the problem Theresa Villiers has left us with no hope whatsoever.

“Anne Henderson and her fellow commissioners are out of control, they have lost all perspective on this but it is up to the commissioners to justify their decisions.

“There’s no logic to their decisions, people should remain calm we’ve been provoked in the past but we will redouble our efforts to get rid of the current commission and the current legislation”, he added.

DUP MP Nigel Dodds said the Parades Commission “should simply end the pretence and ask for its name to be changed to the anti-Parades Commission”.

“The Parades Commission will no doubt parrot the Sinn Féin call of more dialogue. This is a diversion from the truth. 

“The Commission hides behind a tissue of lies to hide its anti-parades agenda. 

“The Secretary of State promised to help then made the situation worse by blocking the proposed parades panel. 

“The Secretary of State and the NIO have responsibility in law and practice for parading issues”, he added.

The nationalist Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) said that they would be seeking a judicial review into the decision to allow the morning parade to pass the flashpoint.

“It is the demand of local residents that the same logic which has been applied to banning evening Loyal Order parades through Greater Ardoyne is also applied to morning parades. 

“Local residents, including GARC activists, will be taking a number of judicial reviews in an attempt to overturn this decision”.

The group said they would also be holding a counter-protest on the morning of the parade.