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Parades body restricts dissident republican march

(Maeve Connolly, Irish News)

Stringent conditions have been imposed on a dissident republican parade in Ballymena, Co Antrim. The Parades Commission has told organisers they must not leave Fisherwick estate during the internment anniversary march on Thursday despite the fact they had not applied to march there.

The contentious parade had been restricted to Fisherwick for the past two years but this year the Friends of William Orr republican band applied to march along Broughshane Road, Cushendall Road and into Dunclug Park, returning via Fry's Road over the course of two and a half hours.

The commission dismissed this application and instead restricted the marchers to a 100-metre stretch, ordering that the event should last no longer than 30 minutes.

"The parade may instead proceed from the determined assembly point to a point 100 metres along Fisherwick Gardens. At that point the parade will turn around and return to the determined assembly point where it shall fully disperse," the determination read.

It was also ruled that the two bands could only play a single drumbeat on a single side drum "to facilitate the keeping of time".

A spokesman said: "The commission does not have the power to ban any parade. Confining the parade to Fisherwick Gardens should not give rise to a perception that the parade is welcomed in this area.

"The assembly point for this parade is as notified by the organiser. The commission has no information that the organiser has chosen this point following consultation and agreement with the host community.

"The commission has heard from a range of political and community representatives indicating that there is no community support for this parade. Indeed there are indications of strong objections to this parade taking place at all."

In its determination the parading body noted that participants had chanted "INLA" at last year's parade and carried "the flag of Fianna na hEireann".

Sinn Féin Ballymena representative Padraig McShane said the party supported the wishes of residents.

"There is no support for the parade in Fisherwick so we would ask for the organiser to call the parade off," he said.

DUP North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey said that while the commission did not have the power to ban a parade, Secretary of State Shaun Woodward does.

"He should intervene and ban this. It serves no purpose for the republican community and certainly serves no purpose for the unionist community," he said.

Apprentice Boys also limited

Restrictions have been imposed on several contentious Apprentice Boys of Derry feeder parades due to take place next Saturday.

In north Belfast the Ligoniel Walker Club Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABOD) has been ordered to play only a single drumbeat between the junction of Crumlin Road and Hesketh Road and the junction of Woodvale Parade and Woodvale Road.

Supporters must not display flags or emblems on the outward route along the same stretches of road in what the Parades Commission described as an area of "fragile community relations". They may accompany the bandsmen on foot within the body of the parade.

In its determination the commission expressed disappointment that agreement could not be reached but acknowledged the "sincerity, goodwill and commitment of the North and West Belfast Parades and Cultural Forum and the Ardoyne Parades Dialogue Group in seeking to achieve an understanding on these issues".

It noted that in Ballymena its code of conduct had been breached last year by Ballymena and Harryville ABOD as they passed All Saints' Catholic church.

Only a single drumbeat can be played from 130 metres before the church until a point 50 metres past it.

Supporters will not be allowed to accompany bandsmen along Market Road but must use a parallel road.

"The commission has determined that all three ABOD clubs who have notified to parade this route on August 11 2007 shall assemble at 6.30pm at Mount Street on the return route and shall process together as one parade," the determination read.

"The parade shall not pass All Saints' Church before 7pm on the return route."

This is to allow Mass-goers time to leave the church and car park.

In Dunloy, Co Antrim, the Dunloy Apprentice Boys Walker Club has again been restricted to marching around the Orange Hall rather than into the village. Maghera Concerned Residents, meanwhile, are holding a protest on Main Street at its junction with Hall Street as Curragh ABOD parades in the morning.

In Co Fermanagh's Newtownbutler Lisnaskea District No 2 and Newtownbutler RBP No 154 are not permitted on a section of the notified outward route between the Orange Hall, Main Street and St Mary's Hall at the junction of Main Street and Clones Road.

August 6, 2007

This article appeared first in the August 4, 2007 edition of the Irish News.

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