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Orange Order confirm proposed Ardoyne parade deal has collapsed

By Deborah McAleese

A deal between loyalists and republicans to end the Ardoyne parading dispute has collapsed.

Warring parties were on the verge of an agreement that would have seen the controversial Twaddell protest camp dismantled within days.

However, it is understood that members of the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG), which is linked to the UDA, and Ballysillan LOL objected to some elements of the proposed deal.

The Parades Commission is awaiting the outcome of the talks before making a determination on the July 12 Orange Order parade in north Belfast.

In a statement the Orange Order said it "regrets" that the resolve initiative did not succeed.

"The County Grand Lodge of Belfast very much regrets the initiative to resolve the Crumlin Road impasse did not succeed.

"We thank those involved for their efforts and input.

"The County remains committed to supporting the Ligoniel lodges complete their Twelfth of July 2013 parade."

A source close to the dispute said that the anticipated breakthrough had hit a stumbling block.

"A deal had been expected on Friday past, but as of this evening (Monday) it looks like it is on the verge of falling through. Both the UPRG and Ballysillan LOL are opposed to what was agreed between the parties," the source said.

"Dismantling of the camp may not happen now."

Methodist Church president the Rev Harold Good, who witnessed decommissioning of IRA weapons in 2005, has been involved in the negotiations.

The proposed deal involved an offer to demolish the Twaddell camp if republicans agreed to a short, early morning Orange march past Ardoyne on Friday, the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.

As part of the deal there would be no application for a return parade on the Twelfth.

On Sunday night Ballysillan LOL insisted it would not be taking part in Friday morning's walk past Ardoyne shops.

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly commended the efforts of all those involved in efforts to reach a resolution.

He said: "Sinn Fein has been consistent in our support for resolving issues around parading and protests through genuine and inclusive dialogue involving local communities and parade organisers.

"So I commend the efforts of all those involved in this dialogue and particularly representatives of the residents group CARA who invested a lot of time in this process.

"The issue of parades and protests along the Crumlin Road past Mountainview and the Dales have brought huge challenges to the communities who live there.

"No resolution has been possible at this time.

"However, all of us in positions of political leadership have a responsibility to continue to do all in our power to support those in local communities involved in seeking resolution to contentious issues through dialogue."

It has cost more than £18m to police the Twaddell Avenue protest camp, which was set up in 2013 after Orangemen were banned by the Parades Commission from marching past Ardoyne on their way home from that year's Twelfth of July demonstrations.

Violence flared following the decision and dozens of police officers were injured.

Protesters have maintained a presence at the interface ever since.

Last year more than 20 PSNI members were hurt during the return leg of the Twelfth of July parade in north Belfast.

One senior police officer had to undergo surgery to reattach his ear after it was "effectively severed" after being hit by masonry.

In another case only a motorcycle glove prevented an officer's finger from being bitten off.

He required 12 stitches on his hand after the savage assault.

And a teenage girl was seriously injured after she became trapped under a car that struck her during the disturbances.

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