The Commission has also decided to allow Orangemen and two bands through another flashpoint in the main West Belfast peace line on the same day, while rerouting them from the same spot on their return journey.
Once again, Orangemen have again been banned from marching along Portadown’s nationalist Garvaghy Road after this Sunday’s Drumcree church service. The parade has passed off peacefully for the last three years but sparked massive violence in the late 1990’s.
On a brighter note, there was agreement between the Orange Order and the Bogside Residents’ Group in Derry after talks mediated by city center businessmen reached a resolution in which both sides made concessions.
The nationalist side dropped their objections and threatened protests, while the Order reduced the numbers coming into the city from 15,000 to 3,000. The parade will also begin at noon and return across the river by 2 p.m. — earlier than originally proposed.
The agreement in Derry was all the more remarkable because of an apparent split in the Orange Order over talking to residents. The Order had taken part in talks brokered by city center businessmen that also included the nationalist residents.
Although the two sides did not meet face-to-face alone, they were both in the same room discussing the parade – something that was later criticized by the Order’s Grand Master, Robert Saulters.
In rebuking his own members for taking part in the talks, Saulters said they should not have been “tempted” down that road. In a letter, he said the Derry talks, as well as similar meetings in Belfast, breached “if not the letter, certainly the spirit of Grand Lodge policy.”
He said he wanted to warn members that opponents would seek “to tempt them into processes which include meetings and dialogue with Sinn Fein/IRA-backed residents groups”.
This led a Presbyterian minister, involved in the Derry talks, to criticize Saulters. The Rev. Joseph Fell said Orange leaders in the city had been “responsible, realistic and courageous.”
Fell, the minister at Ebrington Presbyterian Church, said Saulters’ remarks had “appalled” him as he wanted Orangemen to be able to come to the city on the Twelfth to celebrate their culture in a peaceful way.
It was revealed this week that the Order’s West Belfast district master, Billy Mawhinney, took part in talks involving one of the city’s most senior republicans, Sean Murray, in the run up to last week’s postponed Whiterock parade.
Those talks ended in failure and the Parades Commission rerouting the march which, in turn, led the Order to postpone it until later in the year. In the meantime, it is campaigning for the right to walk through the West Belfast peaceline.
In Ardoyne, the Parades Commission has imposed restrictions on band music and the conduct of supporters. It also ordered the march be over by 9.30 p.m. on July 12.
Reacting to the Commission’s Ardoyne ruling, Sinn F