A marked increase in sectarian unionist parades in Newry will only serve to create tension in the area according to the socialist republican party éirígí.
According to the Parades Commission a total of nine sectarian parades are due to take place in Newry on the 11th and 12th July, an increase from 6 parades on the same dates the previous year.
Voicing the party’s concerns éirígí Newry representative Stephen Murney said “Quite a number of local people from various parts of Newry have contacted us over the past week in relation to the number of parades due to be held next weekend. It must be made clear that the areas in which the majority of these parades will take place are not considered to be unionist/loyalist areas. They are in fact mixed areas and in some cases area considered to be predominantly nationalist.
“The increase in sectarian parades due to take place in Newry on the 11th and 12th July is a very worrying development, particularly as the leaders of Orangeism and unionism are clearly embarking upon a joint strategy of street protests over contentious marches. That strategy is raising concerns that there may be attempts to repeat the the ill-fated unionist actions which were marked by large-scale disruption across the Six Counties during the period around Drumcree in the late 1990's.
"Nine unionist parades are listed to take place in the Newry area over the space of next weekend. The route of some of these parades are scheduled to include main roads and city centre streets, which will only ensure a massive security lock-down resulting in shops losing trade, and members of the general public either being unable to or afraid to venture onto their own streets. This will have an extremely negative impact upon the local economy on two of the busiest days of the summer.
"It’s also clear that some of these parades are totally pointless and includes a number of marches to the city centre bus depot so that members of the Orange Order board a bus to take them elsewhere, then when they return that evening they march from the depot.
"This is clearly marching for the sake of marching. One has to ask why they simply refuse to board these buses outside the Orange Hall instead of insisting upon creating disruption for the whole town."