Unionists urge parade dispute probe

The UK Government has been urged by unionists and loyalists in the to set up a commission of inquiry to examine a parading dispute that has resulted in the restriction of a contentious Orange Order parade in Belfast.

Political leaders warned that their co-operation in various levels of governance would be affected if such a probe was not ordered by Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers.

Orangemen have also called for a series of peaceful protests on Saturday – the most significant day of the loyal order marching calendar – to demonstrate their anger.

Politicians and senior Orangemen finally outlined some detail on what their so-called “graduated response” to the determination by the Parades Commission adjudication panel will entail.

The vaguely termed pledge was issued last week, when the region’s two main unionist parties – the Democratic Unionists and Ulster Unionists – walked out of political talks at Stormont to highlight their anger at the commission’s decision, but until now they had been reluctant to explain what it actually meant.

Some meat was put on the bones this morning at an event in east Belfast hosted by the Orange Order and attended by representatives of a number of unionist and loyalist parties that have joined forces to present a united front on the parading dispute.

DUP First Minister Peter Robinson vowed: “This is not a one day or a one week battle, this is a long campaign.”

Orange Order Grand Master Edward Stevenson said: “The time has come for all unionists to stand up and be counted.”

The UK Government-appointed commission cited the potential for public disorder and negative impact on community relations among its reasons for preventing Saturday’s contentious evening parade by Orangemen proceeding along north Belfast’s Crumlin Road, which is adjacent to the nationalist Ardoyne neighbourhood.

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