Police chief appeals for calm ahead of Orange Order parades in north Belfast
Published 07/06/2014 | 02:30
A senior police commander has appealed for calm ahead of two contentious parades at a sectarian interface.
Two marches will take place today involving three Orange lodges at the centre of a year-long stand-off.
The Ligoniel lodges notified the Parades Commission of their intention to complete their July 12 parade by marching from Woodvale to their Orange hall in north Belfast.
However, they have been told not to proceed past Woodvale Parade, preventing them from walking along the Crumlin Road and past Ardoyne.
The first march takes place at 9am, with another due to get under way from 3pm.
A senior PSNI officer in north Belfast urged all those with influence to ensure the day remains trouble-free.
Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw said: "We fully understand that people have a right to assemble or indeed to protest in a peaceful and lawful manner, and we understand the importance of working together with those involved and the wider community to ensure such events take place in a safe environment.
"In doing so, however, people will understand our primary role is to uphold the law and relevant determinations.
"While planning any policing operation we actively consider the views of local communities and their representatives to ensure community life isn't unduly disrupted, and this weekend will be no different.
"Where necessary, we will put in place a police response to ensure public safety is maintained but will very much be looking to those with influence within the community to assist police in ensuring the day passes off without incident."
There was an angry response from the Orange Order and unionist representatives to the decision by the Parades Commission to block this morning's parade.
But nationalist politicians and residents' groups welcomed Wednesday's ruling.
The decision was made by the commission after behind-the-scenes talks failed to deliver a resolution to the stalemate.
Last July 12 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 was set up at Twaddell Avenue.
The cost of policing protests has been more than £8m.