Belfast Telegraph

Ardoyne Orange Order parade refused: Unionist fury as Parades Commission bars order from 'completing' march

By John Mulgrew

A decision to once again bar an Orange Order march from parading along a contentious stretch of road in north Belfast has provoked fury among unionists.

Following on from days of behind-the-scene talks, the Parades Commission ruled three lodges and two bands will not be allowed to pass the Ardoyne shops area on Saturday.

They had applied to 'complete' the return leg of their Twelfth parade last year - after the commission ruled they could not walk along the stretch of the Crumlin Road that separates unionist and nationalist areas.

Since last summer, there been several applications for the bands to pass by the stretch - each time they have been refused.

The return leg of the parade has been blocked since the Twelfth last year.

Violence flared in the unionist Woodvale area last summer after bandsmen were stopped from marching past the adjacent nationalist Ardoyne on their way home from the annual commemorations.

As a result, serious rioting broke out on a number of days.

Reacting to the decision, North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds accused the commission of "caving in" to the threat of fresh violence erupting during the march.

"The Parades Commission has shown why it is a failed approach yet again. The parade organisers have done everything to fulfil their responsibilities to exercise their right to freedom of assembly along this section of the Crumlin Road," the DUP man said.

"It was clear that the only argument nationalism offered was the threat of violence and this commission has caved to it yet again."

The SDLP's Alban Maginness welcomed the decision and said it would "relieve tension which has been building in the area".

Mr Maginness said the ruling must be respected.

"I want to welcome this determination which reiterates the long held position of the Parades Commission in relation to this parade," he said.

"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.

"Following Saturday, however, it is crucial that the ongoing dialogue between the loyal orders and residents continues and is encouraged by everyone who wants to see a peaceful resolution to what is one of the most contentious parades in Belfast and the north of Ireland.

"Resolution will only be found through genuine dialogue and the honest exchange of ideas at a local level."

PUP leader Billy Hutchinson said the Parades Commission was "looking at how bad behaviour should be rewarded in terms of people firing shots at police officers and rioting".

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said the commission had made the right decision.

"This was the only decision the Parades Commission could have made as we move into the marching season," he said.

Since the Twelfth, a loyalist protest camp has been occupied 24 hours a day by those who have vowed to remain there until the Parades Commission allows the lodges to 'finish their Twelfth of July parade'.

The bill for policing the camp topped £9 million last month.

In its determination today the 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."

Today's ruling was the first crunch decision of the parading season for the five-member panel.

Further reading

Ardoyne Orange Order parade decision not a surprise, but issue is republicans won't tolerate a march of any kind or at any time 

Ardoyne Orange Order march turned down by Parades Commission

Decision on Orange Order parade past Ardoyne is postponed for talks

Parades: Decision on contentious Orange Order march in Ardoyne area of north Belfast is deferred

Northern Ireland will need thousands of extra officers if parade appeal fails: police chief Baggott

Orange Order makes 'last push' to complete Ardoyne parade

Loyalist Twaddell protest camp policing bill tops £9 million: 10-month operation in north Belfast 

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