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Ardoyne parade deal: PSNI 'look forward to scaling back police operation' at Crumlin Road flashpoint

Published 24/09/2016

Twaddell Avenue protest in north Belfast (Saturday 6th August 2016 - Presseye News)
Twaddell Avenue protest in north Belfast (Saturday 6th August 2016 - Presseye News)

The PSNI commander in Belfast says he is looking forward to scaling back the policing operation at the Twaddell/Crumlin Road interface.

In July the Belfast Telegraph revealed the bill for policing the loyalist Twaddell Avenue protest camp will be more than £21m.

Twaddell protest police bill predicted to pass £21m

Several attempts to resolve the dispute failed earlier this year.

A protest camp has been in place at Twaddell Avenue since July 2013 when three Orange lodges were barred from staging their parade home along the Crumlin Road.

The small site consists of just a caravan, a portacabin and some toilets, but sporadic violence means there has been a police presence there since it was set up.

Last year, more than 20 police officers and a 13 year-old girl were injured when trouble erupted on the return leg of a Twelfth of July parade.

However a break through was announced on Friday night

Deal finally struck to bring an end to Ardoyne parade dispute

It is understood that - subject to Parades Commission approval - a return march will pass Ardoyne shops next Saturday morning at 8am.

The parade looks set to bring to an end the dispute at north Belfast's Twaddell Avenue-Crumlin Road intersection.

The deal will also see the dismantling of the controversial Twaddell protest camp.

Belfast Police Commander, Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said he is looking forward to scaling back the significant policing operation at the north Belfast flashpoint.

"The Police Service welcomes the news of a local agreement in relation to the challenges surrounding parades and protests at Twaddell/Crumlin Road in North Belfast," he said.

"I and my officers look forward to stepping back from the significant policing operation that has been ongoing for some time.

"We will continue to work with all communities to secure a long term resolution of the issues surrounding parades and protests in Belfast."

Meanwhile on Saturday afternoon, First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness released a joint statement welcoming the deal on the dispute.

Mrs Foster said the community is stronger following the deal.

"The agreement reached between three Orange Order lodges in North Belfast and Ardoyne residents representatives comes about following engagement in a local dialogue process," she said.

"The understanding they have reached is a welcome development and is a significant step given this has been an initiative between the Orange and local residents.

"I said at the start of the summer that we all have a responsibility to show leadership and to continue to seek resolutions to contentious issues through discussion and to ensure any difficulties are identified and resolved peacefully.  By doing so we become stronger as a community and a country.

"I thank all those involved.  We want to build a future that is respectful, inclusive and vibrant.  Northern Ireland can have a very bright future built on respect and celebration of diversity."

Mr McGuinness also backed the deal.

"An agreement that has the full support of the three lodges and the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association is something I welcome and support," he said.

"I commend the Rev Harold Good and Jim Roddy who have worked positively and considerately with everyone in the local community to reach this agreement.

"We must resolve disagreements regarding parades, identity, culture and tradition through dialogue so that difference is celebrated and respected.

"The next phase of our political and peace processes must be the development of a real reconciliation process.

"As leaders we will work with Executive colleagues to ensure tolerance, equality and mutual respect are key tenets of our new shared future."

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