Springfield still in dispute…

This You Tube video shows the extent of the territory in dispute for the weekend march. It begins where the Orange want to come out, and ends where Nationalists want the parade to come out. Nationalists are to mount a challenge to the Parades Commission ruling. But it is also worth highlighting something extraordinary about this situation. This video shows the Catholic housing facing the gates the Orangmen want to march out of, constructed with just one tiny window facing onto what has been a highly dangerous road in the past.

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  • I can’t believe that little stretch of road is what all the fuss has been about…

  • John

    I totally agree with Beano. Why would the OO want to march out of the way down a small piece of road like this.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s worth noting that the church across the road and before the west circular, is Protestant. It’s fencing onto the road is low level.

  • Carson’s Cat

    John,
    Indeed it is a small stretch of road… but then too, why would anyone want to protest about a parade along such a short distance.

    It is worth pointing out about the church Mick.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Is there a reason why the video focusses only on the side of the road that the gate (and Mackies) is on? Presumably the people on the other side of the road are just as affected by any march? I had the feeling, watching the video, like you get when you walk along with one eye shut …

  • I live in the Springfield Road area. We stay in our estate during the marches. I have young children. I don’t want them to grow up with prejudices. But when things like this weekend happen it is hard especially as the children are getting older and asking questions. The area is swamped with helicopters and the air is thick with tension, even if we don’t leave the house. We don’t even live on the Springfield Road, just in the housing nearby. The kids play in the street and talk about the noise of the helicopters and pick up on the sense of something happening, with the older kids going back and forth to the road, you would have to be deaf and dumb not to notice the day is different from the other days. So when my children ask me what is happening how do I answer? And when my children tell me what their friends are telling them, about the Orangies marching and how they are the bad men, how do I explain it away?

    This is what makes me angry, how stupid this whole thing is and how it just sends the innocent into their stupid spiral of useless worthless hate that has no real need or place here.

    And when you know it’s just a matter of a few feet but the damage that it is doing is immeasurable, is it worth it? Is that what they want, to condemn the young to their same rituals of hate?

    I tell my children the Orangemen are just having a parade and they are not bad, but I feel like the boy with the thumb in the dyke thinking that will stem the tide surrounding us.

  • pacman

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but are these gates closed 364 days a year because the two sides acn’t (effectively) live together? That being the case, why on earth are they opened one day a year so that one side can walk through to annoy the other side?

    Any worthwhile answer (ignoring the “traditional route” red herring)? There used to be tons of traditional routes in Newry. There’s hardly a single one now. Amazing what happens when the Fenians multiply.

  • springfield resident

    I livwe in a mixed street off the mid-Springfield Road and am in total agreement with ‘frustrated resident’ above. This is one of the few mixed areas left in Belfast, it is actually a lovely area for the rest of the year with little or no problems with anti-social behaviour that afflict other areas of the city. Unfortunately, and amazingly, a small stretch of road, as depicted int he video, has the potential to caused massive unrest on a yearly basis.

    Finally, as a nationalist, I would rather the people of the mid-Springfield sorted out this problem – and expressed their concerns on it – and not those from lower Clonard who seem to be most vociferous in their opposition to the parade – and yet don’t even live in the area affected.

  • springfield resident

    Pacman,

    they are open the rest of the year – from 7am to about 10pm. All the year round.

    SRR

  • fair_deal

    pacman

    “Correct me if I’m wrong, but are these gates closed 364 days a year because the two sides acn’t (effectively) live together? That being the case, why on earth are they opened one day a year so that one side can walk through to annoy the other side?”

    Partially wrong/correct. At Workman Avenue there are two gates – a vehicle and a pedestrian gate. The vehicle gate is kept shut but the pedestrian gate is open everyday.

    IIRC the vehicle has been open at times as well but not recently (I am open to correction on this point).

  • Brenda

    springfield resident, the small side gate is open all year, but the double gates don’t open they only open twice a year to let the marchers thru. But you can walk thru each day.

  • pacman

    Thanks for the corrections folks. Thankfully I live far enough away to not have to subject my kids to any of it.

  • pacman

    Mind you – why open the double gates then? Surely they could slip through single file and walk to where they’re going. It’d save a fortune on Police costs and cause little or no disruption? Or am I missing the whole point? LOL.

  • fair_deal

    “Surely they could slip through single file and walk to where they’re going. It’d save a fortune on Police costs and cause little or no disruption? Or am I missing the whole point? LOL.”

    There is no such thing as a bad idea (allegedly 😉 )However your suggestion wouldn’t deal with the residents complaints as the parade would still come on to the Springfield road at the same point, take longer to pass and require the same police presence

  • Mick Fealty

    Stephen,

    There’s a link to another video looking the other way… not comprehensive, but…

  • pacman

    Sorry fair deal but what I can never get my head round and what has never been truly explained is why on earth would anyone want to march in an area where they are obviously not welcome/wanted? If I was inclined to march, i’d much prefer a sea of smiling faces, enjoying it.

    I have never yet heard a spokesman for the loyal orders adequately elucidate a valid/sensible reason for this. Which, of course, draws me always back to my initail impression of the whole thing: Sticking two fingers up at the Taigs.

  • elfinto

    Mick,

    The video does not show the housing that you allude to. As Stephen points out it only shows one side of the Springfield Road.

  • Brenda

    Fair deal, in the past nationalist communities have been hemmed in with extremely heavy military and police presence, in order to allow these gates to open and allow the Orange men to come out on the nationalist springfield road to march in full regalia. Ormeau residents too have been hemmed in to their streets to allow these marches.

    If the Orange want and truly want a peaceful summer then why do they not come out at the West circular road and turn right and go back the same route, instead of marching thru nationalist areas while the nationalist residents are hemmed in with heavy police and military presence.

    If they are sincere about peace then that is what the orange should do.

    Failing that at least compromise and come out at mackies (where the traffic lights are in the video) and not come out the gates at all?

    Because even if it is only one Orange man its still a presence of police and military. It’s up to the orange, not the residents. Walk where you are wanted and walk with dignity among your own people.

  • Brenda

    elfinto try the link where it says video in red letters.

  • elfinto

    OK, I found the appropriate link. I think the way these houses have been built says it all. They are like fortresses. Living like this cannot be easy and residents must find this parade, with its paramilitary displays, extremely intimidating.

    I do not know this area particularly well but the road junction shown at the end of the first video is definitely not the West Circular. I think it is the entrance to Mackies. So the rerouting is by a very small distance. Apparently this stretch of road was worth four days of severe rioting last year. Maybe if the PSNI and PPS had done their jobs properly and prosecuted the rioters instead of letting them off the hook the Orange Order would be in a weaker position this year and the Parades Commission would have the backbone to do the right thing.

    I wasn’t aware that there was any mixed housing in this area at all and it is heartening to hear as the rest of this area is completely segregated.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Pacman,

    “ignoring the “traditional route” red herring”

    Tradition tends to be quite important to both sides here. If traditional routes are to be abandoned why not abandon other traditions like the GAA or maybe Irish street signs for example?

    The parades commission affects one side disproportionately to the other. Other cultural activities should have been within it’s remit. For example, as a Unionist I don’t like my taxes going to help promote the GAA.

  • chris

    Will the Whiterock lodge be continuing their ‘new’ tradition of scaling the peaceline gates with their lodge banner and shouting sectarian abuse at householders on the Springfield Road, this year.

  • fair_deal

    1. The onus in your entire post is it is solely the OO’s responsibility for creating the conditions for a quiet summer. It isn’t. It is everybody’s.
    2. This length of the Springfield Road is not the sole preserve of one community.
    3. The OO has participated in dialogue about this parade.

    “in the past nationalist communities have been hemmed in with extremely heavy military and police presence,”

    If there is no attempt to physically stop the parade then there is no need for a significant police presence a la Ardoyne on the night of the Tour of the North.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Thanks for the pointer to the second video, Mick.

    Again a question, though: Why is it so short, and why does it only point in the opposite direction to the main video? There is a whole swath of the 50 metres (up to the West Circular (if I’m not mistaken) that isn’t shown.

  • pacman

    Congal,

    As an Irishman I don’t like my taxes going to the british exchequer. We all have our moans. Remind me, when was the last time the GAA tried to play a match on the Shankhill or a council erected an Irish Language sign in Ballymena? Avoidance of the issue and a descent into whataboutery is lame.

    The reason I label tradition as a red herring is as I stated earlier, once-traditional routes were routinely and voluntarily changed in Newry in the past when the demographics of these routes were irrevocably changed with the onset of new housing. This was in the mid to late 70’s and there wasn’t a residents group in site. Tradition is a poor excuse for the mayhem that follows it. I have recently read Andrew Boyd’s “Holy war in Belfast” and it all comes down to the same thing as I stated earlier.

  • SlugFest

    Congal Claen,

    “If traditional routes are to be abandoned why not abandon other traditions like the GAA or maybe Irish street signs for example?”

    Are those Irish street signs being forced onto the Shankill Road? Are Protestant children being told they must play in the GAA?

    the answer, of course, is no. So why, then, must the the OO and loyalists force their ‘traditions’ onto another community?

  • pacman

    Actually I’m curious – what is it that the GAA does that the Parades Commission would get to rule on? Allowing teams to play on one side of the pitch only? Mind you that might’ve helped Down last saturday.:)

  • elfinto

    Stephen,

    I’m 99% sure that is not the West Circular Road. We need a westie to sort this out – although bizarrely the part of the road shown is in the North Belfast consistuency (the Boundary Commission is repsonsible for that particular anomaly).

    Calling all westies – what is the junction shown in the video?

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Pacman,

    The problem is that the parades commission only affects prod culture. Therefore prods are gonna be the only losers. Therefore, there won’t be compromise. The only way compromise can come about is if Nationalists have something to lose.

    My example about the GAA was just to show that there are grievances on both sides. However, only dealing with one sides grievances will in itself produce more.

    I personally don’t mind the GAA receiving tax money. However, not if there is open season on OO parades. Either we ban all sectarian culture or none. It can’t just be one side…

  • Stephen Copeland

    elfinto,

    Two things:

    I think it is the West Circular, as the parade route goes as follows: … Workman Avenue, Springfield Road, Dunboyne Park, … , and of course you have to go past the west circular to get to Dunboyne Park.

    Secondly, the whole route, once through the gates, is in West Belfast. Only the ‘loyalist’ side of the fence is in North – streets like Workman Ave, Woodvale Ave, etc. The houses facing Springfield Road are all in West AFAIK.

  • pacman

    The GAA has plenty of Protestant members (albeit in the South) Congal so it can hardly be defined as sectarian. Unionists in the North voluntarily exclude themselves because it’s whole ethos is of Irishness. (Though, I would be curious as to the religious make-up of the PSNI team if only to debunk the sectarian accusations).
    I would have no desire, as an Irishman, to join the OO but as a Catholic I couldn’t anyway. Also, I believe I am correct in stating that the Parades Commission places restrictions each year on AOH parades in Kilkeel so it can’t be deemed to affect one side only. I believe I’m also correct in stating that the AOH doesn’t go on the rampage if it doesn’t get it’s way.

    Again I ask the question – why on earth does anyone want to march where you are obviously not wanted? I’m all for your expression of your culture but I’m sorry, whether it is by your exclusion of me for my religion or the fact that I don’t have any interest in this expression of your culture, I still don’t see why you need to impose it on me.

  • SlugFest

    A few years back I stayed at the Farset International Hostel (on the opposite side of that stretch of the Springfield Road) for over a month. As my preferred mode of transportation was walking down to the Falls Road and hopping in a black taxi (I like to eaves drop on the locals … the conversations tend to flow more freely in the taxis vs. the busses), I got to know that stretch of road fairly well.

    What that video doesn’t show is that a large stretch of houses on the opposite side of the street (the nationalist side), which are fairly new, are bricked up. They were built with the front of the house facing Springfield Road, which technically makes perfect sense. But every single window and every single ‘front’ door facing the Springfield Road had to be bricked up so that, should rocks, bricks, and petrol bombs be thrown at them during tense times, the families would be safe. As the houses are all quite pristeen, the bricked up windows and doors look, to an outsider, very odd and disturbing.

    One day, as I was walking down the Springfield Road en route to the Falls, I noticed three little children, roughly four years old each, hiding in the shrubs ahead of me. From their giggling and spying on me through the bushes, it was clear that they planned on jumping out at me and playfully surprising me. As I approached their hiding place, they each jumped out and squealed at me. Feigning shock and fear, I said “Oh! You scared me!” Upon hearing my American – or just plain foreign to them – accent, their faces suddenly changed from innocent happiness to absolute terror … they mistook me as being one of themmuns. This wee girl, with bright blue eyes, looked up at me with both shear fear and curiosity and meekly asked “Are you a Prod?” I felt like someone sucker punched me in the stomach. I didn’t know how to react – should I go into a long diatribe, telling them they have nothing to fear from Protestants? Would I be correct in telling them that when they live in bricked-up houses? It was all very unsettling, and I didn’t want to cause them any more fear, so I gently said ‘no, I’m just an American’ and continued on my way.

  • elfinto

    Stephen,

    It is definitely not the West Circular as there is a residential area including Springfield Parade and Isidore Avenue before this junction. There are also houses along at the bottom of the WCR.

    I think the junction shown is the entrance to the Mackies complex. Can a westie confirm?

    From Lanark Way up to Workman Ave the Springfield Road forms the constituency boundary so as you say the loyalist area is NB but the nationalist area is WB. I think that further up around WCR both sides of the road are in WB.

  • Brenda

    ok here is the lay out of the springfield road. Those gates at Workman avenue. if the marchers come out there they come out facing those houses with very few windows.

    If they come out at the west circular which is not shown in the video, because it isnot in dispute. the west circular road is only a few short steps really from the orange hall, in the mainly protestant part of the area,there is absolutely no dispute about taht, so its not in the video.

    What the residents propose is to come out at the traffic lights which is mackies old site. The residents say if they do that, they will miss the contentious part of the road. a bit like stopping a march at the ormeau bridge. This is a compromise.

    The residents say this is a compromise, avoid contact with catholic residents and allow the parade to continue UP the springfield road to the Loyal Orange Lodge near the west circular road.

    Hence spike muray, if they come out at the gates at workman avenue its a victory for the OO. If they come out at west circular its a victory for the residents, BUT if they come out at the traffic lights, ie mackies, then it is a compromise IMO for common sense.

  • springfield roader

    It is indeed the entrance to Mackies – and there are several streets on up on the left. They are well-mixed and very peaceful the rest of the year.

  • Stephen Copeland

    elfinto,

    You’re right about the West Circular. I just re-watched the video, and it certainly doesn’t go as far as the West Circular. So I guess its Mackies – the video is showing just the gap between the two routes. Why did the guy have to run while he was filming? Was he on a secret recon mission?

    The whole route beyond the Methodist church shown in the video is in West – I think the boundary goes through the church, so its front is in West and its back in North.

  • Brenda

    it is mackies. So the OO can come to the LOL hall on three different routes. Westcircular and turn right on to the hall and return the same way. No dispute in their own area.

    Down thru narrow streets and out the gates at workman avenue and march up past the houses with no windows and the new estate past the traffic lights in the video and up the Springfield road to the LOL hall.

    Or compromise as the residents want, march thru mackies site and out at the traffic lights and up the springfield road to the LOL hall. Avoid the nationalist houses on Spring field road.

    What they will do is seperate it up. Bring 50 (or less) OO men out the gates at workman avenue and the rest out at the gates. Obviously the men who come outthe gates will meet the main body of the parade at the traffic lights?

    Where is the sense in that?

  • elfinto

    Well, that’s that cleared up. So the rerouting (as the video shows is minor) but from the Orange / UVF point it’s a big deal as they can’t pass by the homes of the Fenians, flying their flags, banging their drums and commemmorating thier killers. Pathetic!!

  • Brenda

    thats right its minor. the OO men who come out the gates will be meeting the main body at the traffic lights anyway. I can’t see the sense in that. Even if they reduce the numbers, it makes no sense, hence the challenge to the PC ruling.

  • elfinto

    Why did the guy have to run while he was filming? Was he on a secret recon mission?

    Stephen, maybe he was after having a few cans of McEwan’s.

  • Brenda

    Clonard residents have been refused permission for a judicial review.

  • Rose Tyler

    As a Springfield roader the sight of the OO parade has never bothered me or my family and neighbours. In fact I remember as a little boy we all used to love it.

    The only thing that offends me is the influx of protesters from the rest of west Belfast and beyond who are responsible for hemming us intop are homes.

    We are not going anywhere in this country with we go out of our way to be offended by a few old men in bowler hats

  • Spring Cleaner

    The above post should be credited to

    Spring Cleaner not rose tyler.