Orange Order looking at possibility of contigency venue in north Belfast for the Twelfth

Orange Order looking at possibility of contigency venue in north Belfast for the Twelfth

THE Orange Order is looking into the possibility of a contingency plan for the Twelfth of July parade in north Belfast.

According to the BBC, senior Orangemen have asked Belfast City Council about the availability of Ballysillan Playing Fields as a meeting or dispersal point.

Sources have told the BBC that organisers want to be able to make a snap decision to change the parade venue if necessary.

It would only be used if they were unable to take their normal route, which passes some contentious areas.

However, the Orange Order has said it does not want to comment on the proposal.

The enquiry was submitted to the council by William Mawhinney, the secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast.

In a letter dated 19 March, he wrote: “On behalf of the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast, may I make an enquiry as to the availability of Ballysillan Playing Fields and any associated costs on Friday 12th July 2013 from 1pm to 4pm inclusive.”

The request was referred to the council’s Parks and Leisure committee.

During a meeting of the committee last week, a few more details of the Orange Order’s contingency plan emerged.

A council document stated that the order does not intend to use the playing fields “for an event” but was inquiring about the availability for its car park “as a meeting and/or dispersal point for up to 8,000 people, should the need arise, as part of the parade”.

The document said that the Orange Order would provide its own stewards on the day.

Within the council paper it is also noted that Mr Mawhinney has said the order was only enquiring about availability and would confirm their request closer to 12 July.

However, sources within the Orange Order and within loyalism told the BBC that the site at Ballysillan could be used for a Twelfth demonstration for marchers, bandsmen and supporters from north Belfast, if required.

The sources also emphasised that this was a contingency measure and that, at present, the parade organisers still intend to go ahead with their usual Twelfth demonstration, along their normal route.

At last week’s council meeting, it was asked to consider allowing the council’s director of parks and leisure to make the decision about the availability of the playing fields to the Orange Order.

But some nationalist councillors on the Parks and Leisure committee have said they are not happy with that request.

They said it was not a decision for one person but one that committee members should make.

The nationalist councillors said they wanted more information about what exactly the Orange Order was proposing.

The committee is due to discuss the request next month.


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