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Twelfth of July: North Belfast parade refused permission to pass Ardoyne shops

Orangemen have staged at protest at Stormont against the Secretary of State

Published 06/07/2015

Orange order at stormont
Orange order at stormont

The Orange Order have once again been refused permission to walk along the contentious stretch of road in north Belfast which separates unionist and nationalist areas.

Orangemen will be allowed to walk past the Ardoyne shops on the outgoing route of the Twelfth of July parade but will not be allowed to return along the same way.

This is the third year in a row that the Parades Commission have refused the Orange Order permission.

Loyalists set up a protest camp at Twaddell Avenue in July 2013 after the Parades Commission decision stopped the parade taking place on the stretch of the adjoining Crumlin Road.

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.

Unionists slammed the decision as the Orange Order held a picket line protest at Stormont.

Meanwhile Sinn Fein have welcomed the determination.

On Monday morning Orangemen staged at protest at Stormont against the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and Stormont House.

The OO said the purpose was to "highlight the "intransigence and duplicity of the Secretary of State and the Northern Ireland Office in respect of the Parades Commission".

TUV leader Jim Allister said: "The decision of the Parades Commission to once again ban the return parade of the Ligoniel Lodges is clearly a reward for Republican violence.

"The Commission itself notes that there was no public disorder related to the July 2014 parade which was conducted “peacefully and lawfully and was well marshalled”. It also notes that the nightly and weekly parades have been well marshalled and have not resulted in public disorder or violence.

“Yet they say they reached their decision because of a high possibility of public disorder.

“Such a perverse decision sends out a clear message that violence pays.”

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said the decision was the "latest appalling and unjustified decision" made against the parading tradition in Northern Ireland.

He said: "It should simply end the pretence and ask for its name to be changed to the Anti-Parades Commission because everything it says and does shows that is its real aim.

"The Parades Commission will no doubt parrot the Sinn Fein call of more dialogue.   This is a diversion from the truth.  There has probably been more dialogue about the traditional Crumlin Road parade on 12th July than any other parade in Northern Ireland. Hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of pounds of public money have been spent on it.  Negotiations have included Loyal Order members.

"Direct dialogue between the Loyal Orders and one of the residents groups CARA has happened.  In the years of direct dialogue, Parades Commission decisions got worse for the Orange Order.  The Commission hides behind a tissue of lies to hide its anti-parades agenda.

"There is one solution and one solution only to this and that is the abolition of this discriminatory Commission and fresh parading legislation based on OSCE  (Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe) guidance. 

"The Secretary of State promised to help then made the situation worse by blocking the proposed parades panel. The Secretary of State and the NIO have responsibility in law and practice for parading issues.

"It is not devolved.  Since she was reappointed she has done absolutely nothing. It is unjust to do nothing about a difficult situation then expect everyone else to do something. Theresa Villiers must act now. As a start she should ask all of the Parades Commissioners for their resignation.”

However Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly welcomed the Parades Commission's decision.

He said: "I welcome this determination from the Parades Commission on the evening leg of the July 12th parade which passes though Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales. It is the right decision and is consistent with determinations from recent years.

"The Orange Order's refusal to accept a similar determination from 2013 and the ongoing presence of Camp Twaddell has exacerbated tensions in the area.

"The continuation of that protest, combined with the nightly parades all contributed to this determination.

"The Parades Commission have now made their determination and that should be respected by all.

"All elected representatives and community leaders should be working towards a peaceful summer for all the people of the Greater Ardoyne and Woodvale areas."

A spokesperson on behalf of the Parades Commission said: "The decades-long parading conflicts of the Crumlin Road area have had severe consequences for the local north Belfast communities.

“The present dispute, involving nightly parades and a protest camp, has heightened intercommunity tensions.

“The dispute concerns fractured relationships at the interface.  Its resolution is dependent upon improvements in these relationships.  

“This requires engagement aimed at meeting the distinct needs of both communities.  

“All parties for and against this parade have a part to play in achieving a resolution which brings mutually beneficial outcomes.  

“Of the 26,000 notified loyalist/unionist parades in the past ten years, 24,180 have not had any conditions imposed upon them by the Parades Commission.”

A Government spokesman said the Secretary of State "does not have power in law to intervene in individual parades".

He said: "Determinations on parades are an operational matter for the Parades Commission, established in 1998 by an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament, acting independently of the Government. 

"The Secretary of State simply does not have the power in law to intervene in individual parades.  The priority for Northern Ireland must be a peaceful parading season free of public disorder.   The Government encourages all those in positions of responsibility to exercise positive leadership and ensure that the law is fully respected and upheld.

"Full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement offers the best opportunity for long term reform of parading legislation.”

Further reading:

Orange Order still wants to march at Drumcree

Orange Hall attacked in Rasharkin

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