Northern politicians condemn Orange Order parade ban in tight vote

Politicians in Northern Ireland have backed a motion which described a ban on a controversial Orange Order parade on the Ardoyne flashpoint in Belfast as “illogical”.

The Democratic Unionist motion was won by a single vote at the Stormont Assembly.

During the two-hour debate First Minister Peter Robinson condemned four nights of violence which erupted after Orangemen were prevented from marching on a contested stretch of road in north Belfast on Jul 12.

However, he claimed the Parades Commission — the adjudicating body set up in 1998 to deal with contentious parades — had got it wrong and lacked credibility.

“The Parades Commission took their decision for political reasons. They have an agenda and that agenda is that first of all they want the Orange institution to engage with them. They want the Orange institution to engage with local residents and they will take their decisions to further their agenda as opposed to what is right or wrong in a particular set of circumstances of any parade.”

Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said Belfast should learn from Derry where thousands of Orangemen took part in demonstrations without incident.

The DUP motion said attempts to build a shared future have been harmed by the ban.

It called for the rule of law to be upheld and for “respect and tolerance to be shown for everyone’s cultural identity”. It was carried by 43 votes to 42.

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