Northern Ireland

Twaddell: Hopes fading for deal between Ardoyne residents group and Orange Order

The annual march passes a stretch of the Crumlin Road in north Belfast that separates unionist and nationalist communities Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The annual march passes a stretch of the Crumlin Road in north Belfast that separates unionist and nationalist communities

A proposed deal to end a long-running dispute between the Orange Order and a nationalist residents group in the Ardoyne area of Belfast has stalled.

The agreement would have meant an Orange parade, prevented from returning to Ligoniel on July 12, 2013, would have been completed on Friday morning.

A loyalist protest camp at Twaddell Avenue would then have been dismantled.

The deal was to be announced on Monday, but a press conference was cancelled.

Image copyright Pacemaker

The Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA), the residents group involved in the talks, held a public meeting on Monday night to outline details of the proposed agreement.

Afterwards, some of those who attended said they were opposed to the deal, but believe it will go ahead.

Members of CARA then held a private meeting to discuss the feedback and agree the next step. A statement is expected to be issued later.

It is understood discussions involving loyalists and Orange Order members are also taking place.

Sources told the BBC that opinion about the proposal among those at the meeting was divided.

Two nationalist MLAs for north Belfast who attended the meeting said they hoped a resolution to the dispute could be found.

Image caption Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said he would support whatever CARA decide

"The mood of tonight's meeting is that this could be an extraordinary moment, but people are very, very worried, they want to come to a conclusion," said Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly.

"CARA outlined proposals that were brought forward by two facilitators, they have given an update about where it is at the moment and they have taken soundings, listened to people. There were many different opinions in there."

Mr Kelly said CARA now faces a difficult decision and that he will support whatever they decide.

SDLP MLA Nicola Mallon said the meeting had been told that one of the three Orange lodges involved in the dispute has said it would not support the proposed agreement.

Moratorium

"Tonight was the first time that many people have had a chance to look at those details and to consider them," she said.

"Certainly a lot of people had a lot of questions to ask and have asked that CARA goes away and reflects on their views and comes back."

The deal between CARA and the Orange Order also included a moratorium on future parades that pass a contested section of the route past the Ardoyne shop fronts on the Crumlin Road.

Under the terms of the deal, CARA would not object to five morning parades by the Orange Order and the Apprentice Boys.

In return, the Loyal Orders had agreed not to apply for permission for return evening parades, including on the Twelfth, until agreement could be reached.

The agreement would be hugely significant, but it does not have universal support.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A protester was flung from the roof of a police Land Rover after being sprayed by a police water cannon three years ago

Another nationalist residents group, the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC), has made it clear that it is opposed to the deal.

In recent days, members of one of three Orange lodges involved in the parades dispute have not backed the agreement.

Ballysillan LOL 1891 has said it would not take part in the parade back to Ligoniel on Friday morning.

That caused concern on the nationalist side that any agreement would not stick and that some members of the Orange Order might continue the protest.

The loyalist protest at Twaddell Avenue began in July 2013 after a Parades Commission determination not to allow a return leg of an Orange parade to pass a section of the Crumlin road.

Campaigners had vowed to keep protesting until the original parade was allowed to return past the Ardoyne shops.

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