TWO prominent Orangemen in Ballymoney have lambasted the Parades Commission over their refusal to allow the return by three Ligoniel Lodges to pass Ardoyne and what they claim is the denial of Dunloy Orangmen’s civil liberties to parade the village at various times during the year.
In a letter to Mr. Peter Osborne, the Parades Commission, chair, MLA, Mervyn Storey and his fellow DUP councillor, John Finlay, said:
“Dear Mr Osborne, I am writing to register our deep concern and anger at the Parades Commission decision to ban the return parade by the three Ligoniel lodges, on the evening of Friday 12th July, past a short stretch of the main public road at Ardoyne in north Belfast, thus preventing the lodges from getting back to their Orange Hall.
“The decision defies logic, and it was met with incredulity and disbelief by very many people across the Province. Last year, the lodges complied fully with the rather unhelpful request for them to return home early. Republicans then rioted and shots were fired at police. Of course, to those of us in North Antrim, this is not new. For 15 years now, the civil liberties of Protestants in Dunloy have been denied to them by Parades Commission rulings that punish law abiding citizens and reward those who threaten violence.
“We totally condemn the violence which has flowed from this year’s determination and are greatly distressed by the impact of the ongoing tension in the Woodvale/Ardoyne area and other places, but you cannot simply wash your hands of this.
“It is grossly unfair to place all your emphasis on the need for the Orange Order to talk to residents. This is a red herring. Such talks guarantee nothing. Indeed, residents groups are often ill-defined and can spring up overnight like mushrooms in a garden. Also, there are currently at least two residents groups in Ardoyne. So, the issue of talks is not as straightforward or as productive as is often made out. Meanwhile, we are faced with a stand-off at Ardoyne - a situation entirely of the Parades Commission’s own making.
“We have had little confidence in the impartiality or competence of the Parades Commission over many years, but matters have now reached an all-time low.”