BELFAST, Northern Ireland — Northern Ireland's government-appointed Parades Commission on Thursday ordered an estimated 20,000 members of a Protestant group not to march next week to a spot near a hostile Catholic area of Belfast.
The commission's chairman, Alistair Graham, said the Orange Order's announced intention to reroute the Monday parade to Ormeau Park, across a river from the Catholic neighborhood, was "likely to bring wholly unnecessary disruption to community relations."
The Orange Order, Northern Ireland's major British Protestant fraternal group, announced its plan Wednesday in protest of an earlier decision by the commission to ban a group of south Belfast Orangemen from parading past the hostile Catholic area en route to the main parade's downtown rallying point.
Despite Graham's verdict, it wasn't clear whether the Orange Order would respect the decision. No spokesman was immediately available for comment.
The Orange Order has not recognized the commission's authority.