Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Twelfth fears over Ardoyne 'stalemate'

Controversy: Ardoyne last year
Controversy: Ardoyne last year

A Parades Commission decision on the north Belfast Twelfth parade past Ardoyne could lead to a major stalemate on the ground.

Orange Order sources won't comment on the reason why an application has been made to Belfast City Council to utilise Ballysillan playing fields, but local community sources say the District Lodge won't accept a ruling this year to return from Edenderry by 4pm.

"A ruling from the PC to be back in north Belfast and beyond the Ardoyne shops by mid-afternoon won't be accepted this year -- not a chance.

"If the Parades Commission comes up with a similar directive, we won't comply with it," one local source said.

In off-the-record briefings last week, senior Orange Order sources said that the application was part of a "contingency plan" but wouldn't elaborate on what it would do if the Parades Commission imposed restrictions on the return parade of No. 1 District Lodge.

But local sources yesterday made it clear that they wouldn't accept a decision to curtail their trip to the traditional Twelfth field in south Belfast.

"The Orange Order complied with that directive last year but it won't take it this year.

"It was undignified and unfair and men won't accept being denied their right to join their fellow brethren and spend the day there.

"The ball is in the Parades Commission's court and we will wait to see what move it makes," one loyalist said.

A stalemate between the Commission and the Orange Order could lead to a dangerous bottleneck in Clifton Street on the morning of the Twelfth.

The Order's largest district, No. 6 from east Belfast, will travel to Clifton Street this year because it is its turn to head the Belfast Twelfth procession, which means it will link up with Orangemen from all the Districts from that side of the city and Sandy Row.

Unionist city councillors expect that a majority of Sinn Fein, SDLP and Alliance councillors on the 20-strong Parks and Leisure Committee will reject the request to use Ballysillan creating a dangerous stalemate situation in the north of the city.

"This is very tricky for the Parades Commission, if it gets it badly wrong this year it could spark a very bad situation," one Orangeman warned.

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