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Ardoyne: Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby welcomes deal on parading impasse

The most senior man in the Church of England the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has welcomed the agreement over the north Belfast parading dispute.

A deal was struck between the Orange Order and nationalist residents on Friday to end the long-running dispute over a banned march past the Ardoyne shop fronts.

As well as the British and Irish governments there has been widespread support for the agreement.

In response to the agreement the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, joined with the Archbishop of Armagh, Richard Clarke, to express their support for the "significant initiative".

He said: "We have been aware that various people and groups have been working hard to reach an agreement which would bring to an end the parading stand–off in north Belfast, a part of the city which has borne economic hardship and carries a heavy legacy from the Troubles.

"The news of this agreement is to be warmly welcomed and we commend all who have taken risks and found a way to serve the common good in the journey towards a peaceful and reconciled future.

"Our prayers and continued support are with those who now carry responsibility for making it work."

The parading dispute has been ongoing since 2013 when Orangemen were banned by the Parades Commission from marching past Ardoyne on their way home from that year's Twelfth of July demonstrations. Violence flared and loyalist protesters set up camp at nearby Twaddell Avenue. They vowed to stay until Orangemen were allowed to complete the journey.

If approved by the Parades Commission, the Orange Order will complete the return leg of the parade along the Crumlin Road on the morning of Saturday, October 1.

After the parade takes place, the protest camp at Twaddell Avenue will be disbanded and the Orange Order will not apply to make the return leg on the Twelfth without agreement.

The dissident republican group GARC have threatened to wreck the agreement and launch a mass demonstration on the Crumlin Road in opposition to the parade. However, GARC's threats have not caused much concern amongst police, the Orange Order or residents.

More: Ardoyne: Time running out for deal as parades body still hasn’t got application to march

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