Tour of the North: Traffic advice ahead of contentious parade
The contentious Tour of the North parade is set to take place tomorrow night and motorists are being warned of minor traffic disruption.
The parade is expected to get underway at 7.30pm and will leave from Denmark Street and will pass St Patrick's Church in Donegall Street before passing Twaddell Avenue en route to Hopewell Avenue.
The Tour of the North has in the past been marred with violent clashes between nationalist protestors and unionist band members and supporters.
However last year's march passed off peacefully.
A number of diversions will be in place on Friday evening in the North Belfast area due to a number of parades taking place during this time, causing minor traffic disruption.
Police said motorists are advised to expect delays in the vicinity of:
- Carlisle Circus/ Clifton Street/ Donegall Street between 6.30pm and 9.30pm. The Westlink will remain open, however diversions will be in place at the off slips at Clifton Street until 8pm.
- Delays are expected in the Peters Hill / Shankill Road areas between 715pm and 8.00pm and in the Twaddell Avenue / Woodvale Road areas between 6.30pm and 9pm.
Access to the Mater Hospital will be available throughout.
Last year the Order was told it could only march past St Patrick's Church in Donegall Street to a single drum beat.
But it says this tensions have been exacerbated by bands playing music "provocatively" within earshot of the church, in particular the Famine Song - and this year the Parades Commission has introduced a more stringent rule on the playing of music saying all music must stop 43 metres away from the church so there is no music within "earshot" of it.
Reacting to the latest determination, the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast said it was appalled by "an increasingly aloof and discredited Parades Commission".
Tensions remain high as the parading season gets underway after police described vandalism of a banner at a north Belfast loyalist camp site in north Belfast as a hate crime.
Loyalists set up a protest camp at Twaddell Avenue in 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.
Parents in north Belfast have been told 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.