Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland parades: Nationalist anger at report of inquiry plan

Unionist leaders and senior Orange Order figures held a news conference on Thursday Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Unionist leaders and senior Orange Order figures made the inquiry call at a press conference in July

A nationalist residents' group has said it is angered by reports of a government plan to set up a legal inquiry into the issue of parades.

In July, unionist leaders called on the Northern Ireland secretary to set up a commission of inquiry.

The call came after a 12 July Orange Order parade was barred from returning along part of the Crumlin Road in north Belfast.

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) said a decision had yet to be taken.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Secretary of State Theresa Villiers was proposing to set up a panel of inquiry over the disputed Ardoyne parade.

Image caption Dee Fennell said people in the Ardoyne area were angry

The Greater Ardoyne Residents' Collective (Garc) said such a commission would represent a "blatant attempt to by-pass the Parades Commission" that makes rulings on contentious parades.

Dee Fennell of Garc said: "People in this area are quite angry about the fact they seem to have the British secretary of state willing to set up a process that could potentially overrule a decision by the Parades Commission, which is meant to be an independent body."

However, in a statement, the NIO said: "The secretary of state expects to conclude discussions with a wide range of interested parties on this issue soon.

"No decisions will be taken until those meetings have concluded. "

"Furthermore, we will not comment on the status of leaked documents.'

Unionist leaders and senior Orange Order officials announced a number of measures at a news conference in July to explain what they termed a "graduated response" to the Parades Commission ruling in north Belfast.

Non-violent protests

The commission had ruled that the Ligoniel Orange Lodge should not make a return parade along a stretch of the Crumlin Road that separates unionist and nationalist communities on 12 July.

As a result, unionist parties pulled out of talks on parades, flags and the past.

It was the second year in a row that such a ruling was made.

Several nights of rioting took place after the same parade was stopped from returning along the road last year, with scores of officers injured.

This year's parade passed off peacefully after unionists and the loyal orders called for non-violent protests.

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