Belfast Telegraph

Orange parade route bid submitted

Orangemen banned from parading through Belfast last week - a ruling that has triggered five nights of violence in the city - have applied to march the same route this weekend.

The Orange Order submitted the unexpected application to parade past the republican Ardoyne area to the Parades Commission, with the adjudication body due to rule on the request on Thursday.

The shock move has been denounced by nationalist politicians as "irresponsible".

A spokesman for the Orange Order said the organisation had no comment to make on the application.

Loyalist riots first flared in the Woodvale Road area of north Belfast on Friday night when Orangemen were prevented from parading past the nearby Ardoyne area on their way home from Orange Order Twelfth of July commemorations.

Republicans rioted in Ardoyne last summer when Orangemen were permitted to return past the area. The Orange Order faced stiff criticism for calling for protests ahead of Friday's event. In the wake of the trouble, the Order said it was suspending protest action.

In five nights of violence since, which has spread across Belfast and beyond, 71 police officers have been injured and more than 60 people have been arrested. While the Twelfth march by North Belfast Orangemen past the Ardoyne on their way home to Ligoniel has been a traditional event, the parade they are proposing for this Saturday is new.

The application was submitted as the US diplomat tasked with finding a resolution to parading controversies in Northern Ireland arrived in Belfast.

Former White House special envoy to Northern Ireland Dr Richard Haass insisted that politics was the only way to find agreement and said the violence which has erupted on the streets is a reminder of the challenges that remain in the region. As well as the issue of parades, he will focus on finding agreement on the two other outstanding problems of the peace process - how to deal with the legacy of the Troubles and how to address disputes over flags and symbols.

Referring to the recent rioting, the New Yorker stressed that consensus could only be reached through dialogue. "This has got to be done politically and within the parameters of legitimate political discourse," he said.

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