Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Those Parading Decisions

Posted on August 28, 2012 by stephennicholl The recent decisions of the Parades Commission have sought to change the environment for the celebration of culture and tradition in Northern Ireland by establishing new precedents. In Belfast the decision to demand the return parade by North Belfast Orangemen had to be completed past Ardoyne shops by 4.00pm defied any logical understanding of time and place. It did however reflect the inability of the Commission to ban a parade even though it is clear that given the opportunity that is precisely what they would do. Their bizarre decision was further compounded by the decision to permit a parade of several thousand dissident republicans, intent on attacking police, along the same stretch of road from which a few dozen Orangemen had been restricted from walking after 4.00pm. In Crumlin the decision to restrict the return parade to only local Orangemen went some way to meeting the demands of Republicans. The decision, far from being the success Peter Osborne believes has established a precedent which will be repeated in towns and villages across Northern Ireland as 12th demonstrations are rotated through local Districts. As in Crumlin, in each town and village Sinn Fein will agitate their supporters, being generous in their assertion that they do not hate all prods just the ones who don’t live in their town. Osborne’s victory will deliver years of antagonism and tension across Northern Ireland. The uproar over the playing of Sloop John B was typical Sinn Fein opportunism with a number of members of the Parades Commission readily accepting of excuses to again change the parameters. The subsequent banning of the YCV band from that stretch of road was a possibility, the decision to ban all music from being played was the ramping up of a peculiar theological twist which elevates chapels above all other places of worship. Such a precedent, if applied elsewhere, will again give Sinn Fein the opportunity to protest outside every chapel during parades. While the Parades Commission has taken the opportunity to increase tension and act as facilitators of the Sinn Fein policy of progressive realisation of objectives their decisions have also given succour to the DUP. Since the DUP/SF parades agreement was rejected by the Orange Institution and others including the UUP the DUP have been working to take control again of the issue. Fortunate then, that the Parades Commission should be so obliging as to take a series of decisions so bizarre that the DUP/SF agreement is back on the table. Anyone taking an interest in Northern Ireland politics over the past 10 years will be well aware of the intricate coordination that takes place between the DUP and SF to deliver a desired result. Both seek the ultimate in power politics in Northern Ireland, two one party communities, existing in a state of benign apartheid, under the complete control of each party. The parading issue is just another box to be ticked. The DUP/SF proposals are not a solution and the longer the DUP hold onto their arrangement with SF the longer we will see ever more outrages decisions from the Parades Commission.

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