Belfast Telegraph

Monday 1 September 2014

Ardoyne Orange parade refused: We'll lock down north Belfast march route, says PSNI

Police vow as decision to ban Orange parade sparks unionist anger

Loyalists protesters on the Woodvale Road after an Orange march was banned from walking past the Ardoyne shops last July 12

Police are planning "a major operation in north Belfast over the weekend" after the Orange Order and unionist leaders reacted with fury to the banning of a contentious parade at a sectarian interface.

They accused the Parades Commission of weakness and bowing to the threat of republican violence.

The parading watchdog rejected an application by three Ligoniel lodges to march along the Crumlin Road this Saturday in order to complete their July 12 parade and end a year-long stand-off.

The decision was made by the commission after behind-the-scenes talks failed to deliver a resolution to the stalemate.

A senior PSNI officer said the force planned to secure the area in advance of this weekend's planned parade in the area.

"We will have big numbers on the ground," the officer said.

In its determination, the Parades Commission 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."

Nationalist politicians and residents' groups welcomed yesterday's ruling.

However, the Orange Order and DUP were furious at the move.

"Six minutes is all it will take for the Ligoniel lodges and accompanying bands to process peacefully along the main arterial route of the Crumlin Road," a spokesman for the Order said.

"It is therefore hugely disappointing, despite numerous overtures, and indeed dialogue with Ardoyne residents, that the Parades Commission chooses to blatantly ignore the concept of shared space in north Belfast and has bowed once again to the threat of republican violence."

He said the Order remained committed to finding a resolution to the dispute. The DUP's deputy leader Nigel Dodds – who was part of a unionist delegation including Peter Robinson that met the commission on Tuesday – accused the body of "weakness".

"It was clear that the only argument nationalism offered was the threat of violence and this commission has caved to it yet again," he said. He added: "Shared space is denied. Identity is diminished. Demonisation is accepted by officialdom."

SDLP MLA for the north of the city, Alban Maginness, said the decision must be respected. "The ruling of the commission will relieve tension, which has been building in the area, and it is imperative that it is respected by everyone," he said.

Sinn Fein MLA and Policing Board member Gerry Kelly said the decision was "sensible", adding: "The application for a parade this weekend was always about unionism trying actively to undermine the Parades Commission."

He said the determination "put meaningful and genuine dialogue at the heart of resolving parading issues on the Crumlin Road".

Joe Marley, a spokesman for Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA), said it was "the only logical conclusion".

Three Orange lodges from the Ligoniel district had applied to march from Woodvale, along the Crumlin Road past the Ardoyne shops.

Last July 12 was marred by extreme violence in north Belfast with police lines coming under sustained attack from loyalists.

Nightly protests have taken place in the area and a permanent camp was set up at Twaddell Avenue in opposition to the decision to ban the march. The cost for policing the protests since has been more than £8m.

STORY SO FAR

The return leg of the Twelfth feeder parade along the Crumlin Road past Ardoyne has been blocked since last summer. The three Ligoniel lodges affected applied to complete the route this Saturday to resolve the long-running dispute ahead of this year's commemorations. They notified the commission of their intention to march from Woodvale Parade, along the Woodvale Road, onto the Crumlin Road and to Ligoniel Orange hall from 9am. The number of expected supporters was given as 140, with two bands also mentioned.

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