Northern Ireland

Corner of Belfast where it is always the Twelfth of July

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Media captionMarchers are diverted by police during their nightly parade on the Woodvale Road

The seasons have changed but in a small corner of north Belfast not much else has... every night is 12 July.

At Twaddell Avenue they refuse to move on.

The symbols of defiance fly proudly at the self-proclaimed civil rights camp.

In a humble portable building sits the banner of the Ligoniel True Blues LOL 1932, one of three north Belfast orange lodges the Parades Commission said could not go home by their chosen route on the evening of 12 July.

This week BBC One programme The View was given access to the camp.

It is a wet night but around 250 have come out. They have been doing so - often in much larger numbers - every night for almost three months.

The crowd watches as a flute band, its members wearing Halloween masks, lead Orangemen towards police lines.

Since last week, because of a new Parades Commission ruling, the band is not allowed to play music on a short section of the route near the interface at the Twaddell roundabout.


But they ignore the police message telling them they are breaking the law. It explains the decision to wear masks.

At one point two other youths appear in full black face masks. Why is not clear. The night remains peaceful throughout.

"There are no other roads that we can go along. It's alright saying re-route then, go a different way but there only is one way," said John Aughey, a member of one of the Ligoniel lodges.

How long is he prepared to stick it out?

Image caption John Aughey is prepared to keep up the protest 'as long as it takes'

"As long as it takes."

Another Orangeman from Sandy Row called Brian said he has joined the protest on every one of its 80-plus nights

"It's peaceful, so it is, it's democratic and I find it's the easiest way to go ahead with it.

"Me personally, I can only speak for myself, but I'm here until the day dot. Until we return home. I'm prepared to stand here as long as it takes in a non-violent way. I'm here to support my brethren. If I have to stand here 24/7 I'm willing to stand here 24/7."

To veteran observers of another protracted parades dispute it looks like Drumcree for townies. But the protesters deny it, knowing that Drumcree did not - or has not - had a good outcome as far as the Orange Order is concerned.

Another view

And it is not just about a parade. Well-known Tigers Bay loyalist Bill Hill said: "Why should we let them 'uns take our culture off us? When I say them 'uns I mean the Catholics, They get all they want."

"But is that really true?" he is asked.

"It's true alright, as far as I can see."

But there is another view - the one from the other side of the street, or in this case the Crumlin Road.

Joe Marley, spokesman for the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents' Association, says the Orange Order needs to talk.

"What we should have now in the autumn is a period of relative calm," he said.

"This is the time that the Orange Order should de-escalate the situation and sit down with local residents. I mean I'm not going to get into negotiations in public. I think that's a thing for the Orange Order and local residents to do in a very open and honest way."

But since the residents appear to hold the upper hand the Order may think there is no point, he is asked.

"I think everything is up for discussion. I mean let's sit down, put stuff on the table and then we'll see what's do-able and what's not do-able."

The local parish priest, Father Gary Donegan, said that every night he and many locals walk the streets of the nationalist Ardoyne area to keep young people from reacting to what is happening across the street.

'Detrimental effect'

"It's been a very strange experience," he said, and a "waste of time and energy for everybody involved".

"At the moment it's (the protest) costing £29.50 a minute. We could have had Gareth Bale playing for the Star, the local football team, because it's £300,000 a week and you can kinda smile at that, but when you think what could that be in terms of a hundred police (officers) recruited, or more nurses, more doctors, more teachers - it's just the sheer waste in itself. It's actually something that in itself is having a detrimental effect on the whole of society, not just Ardoyne."

Image caption Band members wore Halloween masks

But in Camp Twaddell Orangeman John Aughey does not see it that way.

"At every stage it's been other people who have escalated, who have upped the ante, not us. The time may come that is up to the people in this area and the people in the lodges and the people who support us to up the ante and extend what's actually happening."

And how would they do that.

"That's to be decided," he said.

That is not the official Orange line... but neither is there anything to suggest the Order and its supporters at Twaddell are not dug in for a long hard winter.