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Ardoyne protesters vent rage at Belfast priest and Sunday Life reporter

By Rebecca Black and Lisa Smyth

Published 03/10/2016

Sunday Life reporter Christopher Woodhouse is threatened by Gerard McCusker
Sunday Life reporter Christopher Woodhouse is threatened by Gerard McCusker
Dee Fennell confronts Fr Gary Donegan
Christopher back at his desk

A priest and a journalist were subjected to sinister threats by members of a republican residents' group.

The incident took place in Ardoyne in north Belfast after one of Northern Ireland's most controversial parades passed off peacefully.

Orangemen were granted permission to march past the flashpoint after a landmark deal ended a three-year dispute between the loyal orders and nationalist residents.

 

Despite widespread support for the agreement to end the stand-off, members of the hardline Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) protested against the parade.

They then vented their fury at parish priest Fr Gary Donegan as well as Sunday Life journalist Christopher Woodhouse. Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly was also heckled by members of GARC.

The group held protests on Friday evening, sparking a huge policing operation involving 300 officers, and again early on Saturday morning after the parade.

GARC has bitterly opposed the historic deal brokered between the Orange Order and the Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents Association (Cara).

The deal allowed the return parade by three Orange lodges along the Crumlin Road past the Ardoyne shops.

It was agreed the bands would only play hymns as they passed the disputed section at Ardoyne, while the lodges would limit the number of banners on display.

A protest camp in the nearby Twaddell area, where loyalists have staged weekly protests which have cost in excess of £20m to police, is also being dismantled. In return, Cara did not request Parades Commission permission for a protest. The lodges have agreed not to apply for any more return parades on the Twelfth until a wider agreement on the issue is reached.

Cara will not protest at the lodges' already-permitted outward parade on the morning of the Twelfth. A community forum including representatives of Cara, which has been supported by Sinn Fein, and the loyal orders, will also be convened with the aim of improving relations in the area.

The deal was endorsed by local politicians, the British and Irish Governments, and Church and community leaders.

Spencer Beattie, Orange Order county grand master, said there was a sense of "relief".

He said: "The agreement reached did not come easy, but it is founded on mutual tolerance and respect.

"Going forward, we trust this positive atmosphere will prevail regarding future parades in north Belfast, including future return parades along the Crumlin Road."

Loyalists dismantle protest camp at Twaddell Avenue. Image: Pacemaker
Loyalists dismantle protest camp at Twaddell Avenue. Image: Pacemaker
Loyalists dismantle protest camp at Twaddell Avenue. Image: Pacemaker
Loyalists dismantle protest camp at Twaddell Avenue. Image: Pacemaker
Loyalists dismantle protest camp at Twaddell Avenue. Image: Pacemaker
Loyalists dismantle protest camp at Twaddell Avenue. Image: Pacemaker
Loyalists dismantle protest camp at Twaddell Avenue. Image: Pacemaker
Local Orange Order lodges marched past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast early on Saturday morning. Photographer: Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Local Orange Order lodges marched past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast early on Saturday morning. Photographer: Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Local Orange Order lodges marched past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast early on Saturday morning. Photographer: Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Local Orange Order lodges marched past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast early on Saturday morning. Photographer: Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Local Orange Order lodges marched past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast early on Saturday morning. Photographer: Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Local Orange Order lodges marched past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast early on Saturday morning. Photographer: Matt Mackey / Press Eye
Local Orange Order lodges marched past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast early on Saturday morning. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Pictured are Loyalist band members being welcomed home by their supporters. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Pictured are Loyalist band members being welcomed home by their supporters. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Pacemaker press 01/10/2016 The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops. They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades. The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area. Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway. They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye The return parade makes its way past the Ardoyne shopfront towards the finishing point. on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye members of GARC protest at the return parade makes its way past the Ardoyne shopfront towards the finishing point on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye The return parade makes its way past the Ardoyne shopfront towards the finishing point. on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye The return parade makes its way past the Ardoyne shopfront towards the finishing point. on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye The return parade makes its way past the Ardoyne shopfront towards the finishing point. on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye The return parade makes its way past the Ardoyne shopfront towards the finishing point. on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye The return parade makes its way past the Ardoyne shopfront towards the finishing point. on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 1/10/2016 Mandatory Credit - Picture by Justin Kernoghan Hundreds of police officers form a security line between Nationalist protesters and Protestant bands and Orangemen - An Orange Order parade took place this morning in north Belfast as part of a deal to end a long running dispute.The Ligoniel Lodges have held a permanent protest since July 2013 over a decision to stop their return parade past the Ardoyne shops.They have agreed to a voluntary moratorium on future return parades.The Twaddell protest camp on the interface will be dismantled following the parade.Around 600 police officers are on duty in the area.Several dozen protesters from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) gathered at the Ardoyne shops as the parade got underway.They chanted "walk of shame" as the parade passed the Ardoyne shops but dispersed peacefully after the march passed.A protest against the parade passed off peacefully on Friday evening.
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye A major police operation begins at the Ardoyne and Twaddell interface ahead of the return parade on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
A major police operation begins at the Ardoyne and Twaddell interface ahead of the return parade on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye A major police operation begins at the Ardoyne and Twaddell interface ahead of the return parade on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye A major police operation begins at the Ardoyne and Twaddell interface ahead of the return parade on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye A major police operation begins at the Ardoyne and Twaddell interface ahead of the return parade on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye A major police operation begins at the Ardoyne and Twaddell interface ahead of the return parade on October 1st 2016 , Northern Ireland (Photo by Kevin Scott / Presseye)

Mr Kelly, who watched the parade, said it heralded a new era for an area blighted by years of rioting when sectarian tensions spilled over.

He added: "Now we have the potential to move forward. I want this to open up many more good relationships."

But the angry GARC protesters turned on the local priest, politicians and a journalist after the event. They surrounded Fr Donegan - on what was his final day in the parish - and insulted him using foul language. It was during this incident that Gerard McCusker, a brother of an SDLP councillor, singled out Mr Woodhouse and told him he was "coming after" him and warned he "better watch" himself.

The PSNI last night said they were investigating a report of threatening behaviour.

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