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Belfast's Ardoyne parading talks to be resurrected

By Cate McCurry

Talks between loyalists and republicans designed to reach a deal to end the Ardoyne parading dispute are expected to be relaunched soon.

The two sides were thought to be close to an agreement when negotiations collapsed last month after one of three Orange lodges in north Belfast refused to back a proposed deal.

Ballysillan Orange Lodge opposed the move, and the decision was supported by a UDA faction.

The predominantly nationalist Ardoyne has been the scene of rioting and unrest during the marching season for years.

Earlier this month crowds of loyalists and republicans were separated by riot police during a tense standoff.

CS gas was deployed by officers as tensions rose just hours after the contentious Orange Order parade passed off peacefully.

Attempts were made by a group of republicans to burn a Union flag and throw it on a PSNI Land Rover at the Ardoyne shop fronts.

Some bottles and stones were also thrown towards a loyalist protest camp at Twaddell Avenue and at police lines.

The BBC reported last night that a group representing the leadership of the UDA, as well as the UVF and Red Hand Commando, had endorsed the parades agreement.

The Loyalist Communities Council did not take part in the talks, but backed the deal.

The nationalist Crumlin Ardoyne Residents' Association has faced opposition in the area, in particular from Greater Ardoyne Residents' Collective (GARC), which recently rejected a bid to resolve the parading logjam.

Now talks aimed at resurrecting the deal are expected to resume in the near future.

Despite the opposition on both sides, those involved are said to be hopeful that agreement can be reached.

During the Orange Order parade two weeks ago protesters from GARC shouted "walk of shame" as the marchers passed by.

They also jeered Chief Constable George Hamilton, who visited officers in the area before the parade began.

Several protesters shouted "you're not welcome in this area" when they saw Mr Hamilton on the road.

A loyalist protest camp has been manned in the unionist Twaddell Avenue area since the Orange Order was banned by the Government-appointed panel that adjudicates on contentious marches - the Parades Commission - from parading past Ardoyne on its return from the main Twelfth demonstrations in 2013.

A subsequent police operation to monitor the camp and interface has cost around £20m.

North Belfast priest Fr Gary Donegan previously said it was important that people resumed dialogue. "It has to be solved by the community, so whatever possible solutions are there, it has to be agreed by the community," he added.

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