Morning march at flashpoint approved
A contentious Twelfth parade has been given the go-ahead in north Belfast with a number of restrictions.
The Parades Commission announced its determination for the morning feeder parade yesterday and is expected to rule on the return march later today.
Its banning from a stretch of the road past the Ardoyne shops last July sparked a year-long stand-off in the north of the city.
This Twelfth, no more than 100 supporters may accompany marchers and bands must play hymn music only between the junction of Crumlin Road and Hesketh Road and the junction of Woodvale Parade and Woodvale Road.
In its determination the commission said the route has “consistently been one of the most contentious” of recent years.
“The commission is conscious of the very significant upheaval surrounding parades and related protests since July 2013, and the heavy toll that has placed on the fragile community relations in this area,” it added.
“The commission acknowledges the substantial level of disruption, including the significant policing operation, at this location in respect of these parades and protests.”
Last month the parading watchdog rejected an application by the three Ligoniel lodges to march along the Crumlin Road in order to complete their July 12 parade.
The decision was made by the commission after behind-the-scenes talks failed to deliver a resolution to the stalemate.
Last year’s Twelfth was marred by extreme violence in north Belfast with police lines coming under sustained attack from loyalists. Nightly protests have taken place in the area and a permanent camp set up at Twaddell Avenue in opposition to the ban.
In a joint statement on yesterday’s ruling, the The DUP, UUP, TUV, PUP and UPRG said: “It is the same people walking up the Crumlin Road in the evening as the commission has allowed down in the morning so logic dictates they should be allowed to return home,” the parties said.
“The morning parade along the Crumlin Road has not been the core issue so the key question remains. Will the Parades Commission cave in to the publicly-issued republican threats against the homeward leg on this arterial route or not?
“We believe they must be unequivocal in their rejection of these threats and allow the homeward leg of the parade.”