Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Video: Trouble averted as 'Tour of the North' parades past flashpoint

The 'Tour of the North' Orange Order parade has passed by a route flashpoint without trouble.

A number of bands passed by St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street at around 7.30pm this evening.

It's the first major parade of the summer season.

Bands were restricted to playing only hymns as they passed by groups of Catholic residents from the neighbouring Carrick Hill and New Lodge areas on the Clifton Street a short distance away.

Around a 100 gathered on both sides of the street with banners.

Meanwhile around 100 loyalists gathered at the end of Donegall Street heading towards the city centre to welcome the bands as they continued along their determined route.

Tensions rose briefly for a time between local nationalist residents and police after the bands had passed.

There had also been claims that one of the bands had breached the determination established by the Parades Commission.

The Orange Order had criticised the commission following determinations placed on the parade.

Yesterday a spokesman for the united districts committee described the restrictions as "vindictive and Draconian".

"Many hours and days have been spent in genuine efforts to address the issue of respect as articulated by the clergy and parishioners of St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church in Donegall Street in the wake of talks last year," said the spokesman.

There was a huge police presence on the streets of north Belfast as officers prepared for a potential outbreak of trouble outside the Catholic church.

A number of MLAs joined protesting residents outside.

Sinn Fein MLA Caral Ni Chuilin said she was "disappointed" with what she claimed was a "breach of the determination set down by the Parades Commission".

"At the feeder parade there was a breach of the determination set down by the Parades Commission and on the way back as well," she said.

"I mean this has been described as the first significant parade of the parading season and if that’s the start I would ask people to reflect on what they were doing."

This week PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay said he believed improved and ongoing discussions between police, community groups and the Orange Order would prove key to preventing violence on the streets this summer.

More to follow

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