On the afternoon of 12 July there were two very different parades on the Crumlin Road and the constrast could not have been greater.
The first was before 4.00 pm and it was a homeward parade by the three Ligoniel Orange lodges. It was in fact a token parade as it was impossible for the lodges to parade back from the demonstration field before 4.00, as demanded by the Parades Commission determination. The homeward parade does not even leave the field until around 4.15 and so the Parades Commission had set the lodges an impossible task. In fact the banners were then taken back to the demonstration field to enable the three lodges to take part in the homeward parade from the field.
The second was the march organised by Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC), which is controlled by dissident republicans, including its spokesman Dee Fennell.
The first parade was the Orange parade, which consisted of 15 to 20 Orangemen and the banners of the three Ligoniel lodges. It was dignified, disciplined and entirely peaceful.
The second parade was not really a parade at all, it could hardly even be described as a march. It was simply a mob of almost 2.000 republicans, many of whom gave the 'fingers sign' as they went down the road and some of whom threw missiles. The items thrown included golf balls, bottles, glasses and even a chisel. No one goes out armed with a chisel unless they are intent on violence. I doubt if they brought it with them with the intention of throwing it. It was almost certainly intended to be used at closer quarters. One marcher was so keen to give the 'finger sign' and ensure that it was seen, that he waved a pair of crutches in a v shape as he went past!
GARC had applied for a parade of 1,000 people but on the Nolan Show, Dee Fennell admitted that the crowd numbered between 1,500 and 2,000. He also admitted that some of the people who had been rioting at Brompton Park then joined in the GARC march.
In the past the organisers of parades have been questioned by the police about very minor breaches of determinations. On that basis the GARC debacle will keep them busy for the next few months.
What a contrast - a peaceful, dignified parade of Orangemen and a gather-up of dissident republicans and rioters!
The GARC march was pure triumphalism.