Orange Order abandons Ardoyne parade after it is banned
The Orange Order has unexpectedly cancelled a religious march at a parading flashpoint.
The Ulster Covenant commemoration was due to take place this Sunday in north Belfast, with around 350 people taking part.
But the Order scrapped the event after participants were prevented from walking along the disputed section of the Crumlin Road that passes Ardoyne.
Nationalist politicians had accused Orange Order chiefs of being "mischievous" by arranging the event in an area at the heart of a long-running dispute.
Yesterday, the Order announced the service had been cancelled and launched a scathing attack on the Parades Commission.
"The district simply sought to honour and remember those who signed the Ulster Covenant, as others are doing across the city and province at a religious service, yet the Parades Commission denies No1 District Lodge this courtesy," it said.
"Why? Because the parade 'represents the infringement of another community's rights'. No mention of the rights of those on parade, no mention of the rights of the local unionist population, no mention of the impact of the parade not taking place will have on community relations."
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has been considering a targeted investigation – suggested by the Belfast Telegraph – into the circumstances of the contentious Crumlin Road route, which both Sinn Fein and the SDLP oppose.
While Sinn Fein has told the minister it will not co-operate with any inquiry, it is believed that she plans to go ahead with the strategy, which both nationalist parties have said would undermine the Parades Commission.
Earlier this week, Orange Order Grand Chaplain Mervyn Gibson told this newspaper that protests over the north Belfast parading dispute would continue.