‘Respect’ shown if parades are banned believes LOCC

By Scott Jamison

The chair of a local residents’ group opposed to loyalist parades in their community has said he does not believe the Parades Commission’s call for “respect” around marching will happen until parades are banned from the area.

Gerard Rice of the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community (LOCC) was speaking in the wake of the Parades Commission chair Peter Osborne calling for a restrained attitude among those marking centenaries throughout 2012.

Mr Osborne said a process of dialogue had been maintained among marchers and various communities throughout 2011 and a series of roadshows would be held over the next few months in order to improve on that.

However, Gerard said the past two years’ Twelfth parades by the Orange Order in the Lower Ormeau, which saw rioting in 2010 and residents recording events in 2011 to ensure there was no repeat, showed the lack of respect by the Order to the community there.

“The Lower Ormeau has never been shown any respect by marchers. The Parades Commission may like to claim there has been progress on this issue but the insistence of people to organise these parades and take them out of their way to pass nationalist communities and Catholic churches does not reflect that.

“By their very definition the parades don’t show respect because they want to march triumphantly through a community that has experienced violence and tragedy.

“To me, real respect and progress would be shown if there was maturity shown and people wouldn’t have to go out and stir the other community up every time there is a special occasion.”

Gerard said the effects of the Orange Order parade in July 1992, which occurred only five months after the Sean Grahams’ massacre in which five locals lost their lives at the hands of the UFF and featured a marcher giving a five-fingered salute while walking by the shop, were still felt in the Lower Ormeau, especially around marching season.

“The anniversary is a particularly sensitive time for the families involved anyway but that is compounded each year by yet more parades close to where that incident took place.

“It is not respect to cause that level of offence and then refuse to address residents’ concerns for the next 20 years. We have never seen the Orange Order take responsibility for those disgraceful scenes.

“When the Parades Commission are talking about respect, what they seem to mean is nationalist residents should tolerate these marches but I don’t think we should be showing respect for sectarianism or sectarian institutions.”

A Parades Commission spokesperson said there was a belief communities wanted to move on from disputes around parades.

“People want closure – it is up to us all to try to bring this about but especially those local leaders who can make such a difference for our shared future. That is our collective challenge for 2012. This year will be an opportunity to recognise our different past but will also highlight our shared present and may help further build toward a shared future.”

 

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