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Deal struck over contentious Ardoyne parade in Belfast

Published 23/09/2016

Nightly protests were held in the nearby unionist Woodvale/Twaddell area in the years since the camp was set up, with a protest parade every Saturday
Nightly protests were held in the nearby unionist Woodvale/Twaddell area in the years since the camp was set up, with a protest parade every Saturday

One of Northern Ireland's bitterest loyal order parading disputes has been resolved.

Orangemen and nationalist residents who had been at odds for years over a contentious march past the Ardoyne area of north Belfast have reached an accommodation.

The flashpoint has previously witnessed serious loyalist and republican rioting when tensions boiled over on the main date in the Orange parading calendar - the "Twelfth of July".

A 24/7 loyalist protest camp was set up at the volatile community interface in 2013 when the Parades Commission - a government-appointed adjudication panel for controversial marches - prevented Orangemen belonging to three Orange lodges passing the nationalist Ardoyne along the Crumlin Road as they returned from traditional "Twelfth" commemorations.

Nightly protests were held in the nearby unionist Woodvale/Twaddell area in the years since, with a protest parade every Saturday.

The policing operation at the site has cost in excess of £20 million over the last three years.

A deal to resolve the dispute collapsed this summer when one of the three lodges - Ballysillan Loyal Orange Lodge (LOL) 1891 - refused to back a proposed resolution.

With the Twelfth subsequently passing off without major incident, hopes remained high that negotiations could be resurrected and a solution found.

Those hopes proved well founded on Friday night with the announcement that a deal involving the main residents group in the area - the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (Cara) - and all three lodges had been reached.

A statement from the two men mediating - Reverend Harold Good and businessman Jim Roddy - said: "We are pleased to announce that a local agreement has been reached to bring an end to the difficulties surrounding parades and protests in the Twaddell/Crumlin Road area.

"The agreement has the full support of the three lodges and the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association."

The men said the full text of the deal would be published on Saturday.

While Cara supported the deal, it is unlikely that a more hard-line residents group - the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc) - will back the accommodation.

It is understood the deal with allow the lodges to complete their 2013 parade, with a commitment that Orangemen will not apply for future return parades without local agreement.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire hailed the resolution.

"I welcome the agreement which looks set to see the end of the North Belfast parading dispute," he said.

"I commend the representatives of the Orange Order and the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association for their efforts in negotiating a solution.

"This is a clear demonstration that local dialogue can work, and offers up the best chance of resolving disputes like this."

Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan said: "I commend the spirit of co-operation and mutual respect that has allowed a common understanding to be developed on how these parades can be managed.

"I encourage the wider community to give this initiative its full support.

"I acknowledge the hard work in a spirit of genuine engagement and reconciliation by all those who were party to achieving this new approach.

"I wish to pay tribute to those in the Orange Order and among local residents for their leadership and courage in achieving this agreement.

"I look forward to its full implementation in good faith and good neighbourliness."

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