Northern Ireland

Orange Order's north Belfast march restricted

The parade was prevented from marching past Ardoyne shops in July
Image caption The parade was prevented from marching past Ardoyne shops in July

The Orange Order has again been refused permission to complete a contentious parade in north Belfast.

Three lodges wanted to walk along a stretch of Crumlin Road that separates unionist and nationalist communities.

They wanted to complete a parade that was restricted on 12 July. Several nights of rioting took place after the march was stopped.

But the Parades Commission said Saturday's parade can not pass Ardoyne shops on the Crumlin Road.

In a ruling, it said: "On the outward parade, Ligoniel Combine and the accompanying bands and supporters shall not process that part of the notified route between the junction of Woodvale Parade and Woodvale Road and the junction of Hesketh Road and Crumlin Road."

The Parades Commission, which makes rulings on contentious parades in Northern Ireland, said it was mindful of the "significant and unjustified violence" that followed the enforcement of its 12 July determination.


In response to the decision, North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds said: "The Parades Commission's decision in relation to the Twaddell Initiative demonstrates that they have learnt nothing from the experiences of recent years.

"The Twaddell Initiative is a real attempt to move things forward.

"The Parades Commission refuse to reflect on the failure of their 2013 decision and insist that they got it right and others got it wrong.

"They call on others to compromise and to be flexible in difficult situations but they refuse to practise these qualities themselves."

Sinn Féin North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly welcomed the decision and said "it is a sensible one".

"The dialogue that began before 12 July to find a resolution to the situation should recommence without pre-conditions," he said.

"Setting the pre-condition that a parade must take place before dialogue can commence is not the way to progress this situation.

"What needs to happen is direct dialogue between the local residents and the Orange Order."

Progressive Unionist Party spokesman Winston Irvine told BBC Radio Ulster he was disappointed by the ruling.


"I think it's a massive setback for everyone. I don't think there are any winners here at all," he said.

"We certainly are very disappointed that the commission has not seen the opportunity to move the situation forward.

"We must remember here that there has been dialogue between the loyal orders and residents in north Belfast going back many years now."

The County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast said it was dismayed at the determination.

A statement said: "It is shameful that the Parades Commission - who created the situation at Woodvale - choose to consistently deny civil and religious liberty for all in north Belfast, and blatantly ignore a commitment by the institution to full and open dialogue with Ardoyne residents following the completion of this long-held and traditional parade."

In its statement, the Parades Commission noted regular breaches at a protest camp on Twaddell Avenue and "increasing tensions at the interface area".

The Parades Commission reiterated its call for "sincere and sustained" dialogue to resolve the issue.

A spokesperson said: "The commission was assured by those representing the Orange Order that the dialogue commenced, just six days before the 12 July parade, would continue no matter what the decision of the commission.

"The commission is disappointed that this has not yet happened.

"To re-emphasise the need for dialogue the commission wrote to all parties, including the three lodges of the Ligoniel Combine, in early September 2013 to encourage engagement.

"While residents replied positively to this initiative the commission is still waiting for a response from others."

The Order had said talks with Ardoyne residents about next year's parades would begin as soon as the lodges and bands returned to Ligoniel Orange Hall after Saturday's march.

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