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Tensions rise following attack at Twaddell camp site in Belfast

By Liam Clarke

Published 18/06/2015

Nigel Dodds
Nigel Dodds

Tensions remain high at a parading hotspot after police described the vandalism of a banner at a loyalist camp site in north Belfast as a hate crime.

It came as the DUP "castigated" Secretary of State Theresa Villiers at a meeting in the House of Commons yesterday over the marching impasse.

Loyalists set up a protest camp at Twaddell Avenue in July 2012 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.

Serious violence erupted in the area in 2013 when Orangemen were stopped from marching past Ardoyne while returning from their annual Twelfth of July demonstrations.

A plan to establish a panel to examine north Belfast parades was abandoned by Ms Villiers after the Stormont House Agreement was signed.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds MP said: "We castigated the Secretary of State on her failure since last July to move ahead with any initiative to help tackle the Twaddell situation or the wider issues relating to parades and protests.

"Enormous efforts were made last year on a joint and united unionist basis to try to keep calm on our streets and to move things forward.

"Disgracefully, Theresa Villiers abandoned the plan to have a panel to look at the north Belfast parading issue without coming up with any alternative.

"The Northern Ireland Office has the legal and political responsibility for parading issues and it is incumbent on it to do more than simply issue limp statements full of platitudes."

Mr Dodds called on the Secretary of State to give "a positive response to the Grand Lodge's representations to her this week on a new way forward in terms of parades legislation".

Meanwhile, parents in north Belfast have been asked by the PSNI to talk to their teenagers about the consequences of anti-social behaviour after a gang of youths attacked loyalist banners at Twaddell Avenue.

One banner was torn and another had liquid spilled on it. Two empty bottles were seized after the incident was reported to the PSNI at around 11.15pm on Tuesday.

The cost of policing the camp is £333,000 a month, according to Justice Minister David Ford.

Belfast Telegraph

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