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Orange Order commission independent review in to north Belfast parades impasse

By Claire Williamson

Published 20/04/2015

Loyalists hold a white line protest at Twaddell Avenue
Loyalists hold a white line protest at Twaddell Avenue

The Orange Order have commissioned an independent review into the ongoing north Belfast parading dispute.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast said they are launching the review due to the "inactivity" of Secretary of State Theresa Villiers to "seriously address" the parading issue.

A so-called loyalist protest camp was set up at Twaddell Avenue July 2013 after a Parades Commission decision stopped an Orange Order parade taking place on a stretch of the adjoining Crumlin Road, which separates unionist and nationalist areas.

The protest has been going on for more than 600 days.

The Orange Order have commissioned the independent review regarding parades and protests on the Crumlin Road, north Belfast.

The Orange Order said the review is intended to provide an accurate account of the facts surrounding the current impasse and offer conclusions that will contribute to a just and equitable resolution. 

The review will be headed by Dr James Dingley of the Francis Hutcheson Institute, who will appoint an advisory panel to assist him.

In October 2014 Secretary of State Theresa Villiers announced plans for a panel of experts to examine the issue but following the Stormont House Agreement in December, the initiative was scrapped.

In March 2015 the leader of the Orange Order Grand Master Edward Stevenson called for a wave of protest rallies across Northern Ireland over contentious parades as he addressed the protest against the parades restrictions.

Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, said: “This review has been commissioned as a result of the inactivity and inability of the Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, to seriously address the parading issue.

“We wish Dr Dingley well in his endeavours and look forward to co-operating fully with the review in the weeks ahead.”

Unionist  leaders and Orange Order figures had called for a graduated response following the Parades Commission's decision not to allow Orangemen to walk past the Ardoyne shops on 12 July.

A spokesperson for the Secretary of State said:  "The Secretary of State remains keen to see progress towards a resolution of the current impasse and has offered the Grand Lodge several opportunities to meet which they have not yet been able to take up. 

"She welcomes any local initiative which engages all those involved in the parading dispute in north Belfast.”

Further reading:

Cost of policing of loyalist Twaddell protest camp at Ardoyne interface 'rises to £12 million'

Unionists plan action over parades 

Theresa Villiers needed to strike a very delicate balance to keep both sides on board

Implement Belfast Telegraph's Ardoyne parade proposal, unionists urge  

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