Tension mounts as Newry gets set for Orange parade
Tensions are mounting in Newry over a contentious Orange parade due to take place in the city on 12th July.
The parade, believed to contain nearly 40 bands from the Newry District LOL no 9 lodge, has been slammed by local political representatives and organisations, who claim it will stir up ‘sectarianism’ and negatively impact on local residents and businesses.
Sinn Féin representatives in Newry have made a written submission to the Parades Commission regarding the application.
Speaking to Newry Times, Newry MLA Mickey Brady said,
“I want to make it clear that Sinn Féin are not proposing a blanket ban on band parades however when a proposed band parade is not wanted by the majority of local residents and negatively impacts on the local business community we feel that we have an obligation to act on behalf of those people.
“For this reason we have time and again requested, through the Parades Commission, to meet with the organisers of this parade so that we can put the concerns of the community directly to them. To date this meeting has not been facilitated.”
Brady continued, “Regarding this particular parade the concerns of local residents centre around the traffic chaos the parade will inevitably bring. The Parades Commission decision to close the Belfast Road means that the whole of Newry will be gridlocked for most of the day. This has an impact on all local businesses such as retailers and all those involved in the service industry. It could also have a major impact on access to and from Daisy Hill Hospital, with potentially disastrous consequences in the event of a serious accident occurring.”
Brady insists there had been no community consultation from the parade organisers and he claims they have reneged on some of their promises.“Commitments to issue leaflets to local houses have not been honoured and I do not feel that one small advert in a local newspaper is adequate notice for a community which will be effectively under house arrest on 12th July.”
Street drinking and littering in the city on the 12th July is another major concern for Brady, who says the residents have ‘legitimate concerns’. “I have received reports in the past that band members have been drinking alcohol on the streets in view of the police without any action being taken. This is unacceptable. In previous years bands have not adhered to time restrictions placed on parades and music has continued for many hours after the agreed cut off time.”
He added, “I know that both I and my party colleagues Councillors Charlie Casey, Valerie Harte and Brendan Curran will be monitoring this parade very closely and again I would ask parade organisers to bear in mind the impact of their actions on the local community.”
éirígí in Newry also expressed their concern over what they described as a “major demonstration” being organised by the Orange Order. Eirigi Newry spokesman Stephen Murney stated, “It has been reported that several thousand members and supporters of the Orange Order along with approximately 40 loyalist bands will be bussed into the overwhelmingly nationalist city for a sectarian coat-trailing exercise in Newry on the 12th July.”
Voicing the party’s concern over the event, Murney continued, “It’s a case of another summer and another lock down for the people of Newry. Local residents will no doubt be either hemmed into or reluctant to leave their homes because of unionists indulging in a show of sectarian strength in a predominately nationalist area. UUP councillor David Taylor has said he “hopes the people of Newry will enjoy the colour and spectacle associated with the event”.
“In previous years the people of Newry have had to witness the spectacle of drunken bandsmen openly urinating and drinking in the street. If that’s not bad enough many of these bands will be displaying the flags and symbols of unionist death squads who murdered and killed innocent people and who colluded with British state forces in the process.”
Murney added, “éirígí fail to understand why this event can be permitted or why part of Newry can be handed over to a sectarian organisation like the Orange Order, simply for a coat-trailing exercise.”
Newry and Mourne Area Commander, Chief Inspector Davy Beck from Newry PSNI spoke to Newry Times and said that planning for the Twelfth of July Parade was still underway. “As with all public events, police will provide appropriate and proportionate support and would ask for the assistance and patience of the local community.”
Reacting to Brady’s concerns over drinking on the streets, Beck insists no alcohol consumption will be tolerated throughout the parade. “During the past few years we have been working closely with the Orange Order, other parade and event organisers and partners to tackle the problem of drinking at public events.
He continued, “At this year’s Twelfth parade we want people to enjoy themselves but we would stress that they must do so safely and legally. We are sending out a very clear message that drinking either on the parade route or on the street is illegal and officers will not hesitate to enforce legislation and bye-laws. Officers on patrol will confiscate alcohol being consumed illegally and report people to local councils, the PPS, or Youth Diversion Officers.”
Chief Inspector Beck added; “We would also urge people planning to go out to any of the local bars to drink in moderation. Often when people drink excessively there can be a tendency for instances of anti-social behaviour and assaults to rise. No one in Newry wants to see that happen. We want people to have a good day out but to do it with consideration for others.”
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