Call for respect on both sides after parade decision

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

A CONTROVERSIAL parade which is due to take place in Newry later this month has been ordered once again not to proceed through Trevor Hill.

The Parades Commission published their determination on the parade, due to take place next Friday, on Thursday morning. They echo the same restrictions which was placed on the parade last year.

In their original application, Loyal Sons of Benagh, who are organising the parade, had wanted the procession to travel down the Belfast Road, onto Downshire Road and across Church Avenue before coming down Windsor Hill and Sandys Street. At that point only the host band would go on to Trevor Hill and onto Kildare Street, before parading in front of the Town Hall. It would then proceed along Sugar Island and back on to Trevor Hill before joining the rest of the bands on the Downshire Road.

However, in their determination, the Parades Commission have said that "no part of the parade shall proceed to Trevor Hill as notified, but shall turn right at the roundabout at the junction of Sandys Street and Downshire Road".

"The parade shall then return back along Downshire Road and the Belfast Road for dispersal at the notified dispersal point," said the report.

In the background to their determination, the Parades Commission said that the representations they have received "emphasise that the organisers have yet again failed to engage with local people to reach an accommodation to alleviate some of their concerns around the issues raised.

"The Commission has previously encouraged the organiser to open a line of communication with the local community impacted by the parade and notes that the organiser has not fulfilled his obligations in this regard."

The report added: "The Commission believes that the failure to resolve through dialogue the issues arising from this proposed parade contributes to the heightened community tensions around it. It has considered the adverse impact on community life within the city due to the severe traffic and other disruption."

Loyal Sons of Benagh "shall ensure that the parade begins and disperses promptly" and there "shall be no undue stoppages or delays".

It added: "Where practicable the parade shall stay close to the near side of the road at all times to minimise disruption and to facilitate the passing of vehicular and other traffic".

There are also to be "an adequate number of stewards", who are to obey the directions given by the police, to ensure the parade participants act in an orderly manner.

The determination was welcomed by SDLP councillor, Gary Stokes.

"In an ideal world we wouldn't need restrictions, but we don't live in an ideal world. On the one side I'd like to see a dignified parade and provided that's the case I'd like the local people to show respect," he said.

"You'd hate to see a day where local unionists feel that they aren't welcome in their own town.

"There's a lot of talk about equality and respect. I would like to think that on both sides of the community we could live up to that."

UUP councillor, David Taylor, said it was "deeply unfortunate" that the Parades Commission has decided to place the restrictions upon the parade, adding that he was "personally very disappointed at this outcome".

He said: "The Loyal Sons of Benagh always facilitate a well organised and marshalled parade and the determination made by the Parades Commission does not reflect the hard work put in by the Band regarding their event.

"It is extremely unfair that the band is being denied their entitlement to walk through the civic centre of their home city of Newry and the Parades Commission should review their position on this matter."


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