PSNI set to allow illegal Orange march
An illegal march by the Protestant Orange Order passing a
Catholic Church in east Belfast is expected to go ahead this
weekend without interference from the PSNI police.
Almost 300 Orangemen are planning to take part in the parade
past one of Belfast's most notorious interfaces past at St
Matthew's Catholic Church on the Newtownards Road.
The area has been the scene of intense sectarian rioting in
recent years, particularly in 2002, when a number of people were
shot and homes were bombed.
A similar parade caused controversy last year after loyalist
bands played inflammatory tunes outside St Matthew's Church.
The organisers failed to lodge a proper application form with
the Parades Commission. Nationalist residents have sought legal
advice in a bid to halt the march, perceived as inflammatory
'coat-trailing' through their community.
Local Sinn Fein councillor and Deputy Mayor of Belfast, Joe
O'Donnell, said it would be the second illegal parade to pass by
the area in recent months. "If this march is allowed to go ahead
it will show how willing the PSNI is to facilitate illegal
parades in east Belfast," said Mr O'Donnell. "If this was
nationalists marching illegally past a unionist area, I am
certain there would be serious security and legal
A spokesperson for the PSNI said that in the absence of a
Parades Commission ruling, policing decisions taken in relation
with any parade will be proportionate and appropriate. He added:
"Police use all methods available to them to closely monitor
parades and will have no hesitation in reporting breaches of the
law to the Director of Public Prosecutions."
It is believed that the refusal by the Orange Order to file
proper applications may be part of a loyal order tactic to
ensure it is the PSNI which effectively rules on controversial
A PSNI spokesman refused to say if the parade will be allowed to
He said the policing operation would be "appropriate" and