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Hopes for calm at Tour of the North march

Hopes are high that the first contentious parade of the marching season will pass off peacefully tomorrow amid improving relations in interface areas of north Belfast.

Up to 1,000 people are expected to turn out to support the Tour of the North parade.

The Orangemen will march along the Crumlin Road, Oldpark Road and Manor Street/Alloa Street, but will be re-routed back onto the Crumlin Road, where they will hand in a letter of protest to the PSNI.

They will then continue their route back down the Crumlin Road. The Orangemen will this year avoid the flashpoint area of Ardoyne shops.

Local Sinn Fein councillor Conor Maskey said that residents in the New Lodge area would be staging a peaceful protest 70 yards from where the parade is due to pass on North Queen Street. But he said he was hopeful that the parade would pass off without incident.

“Residents in the New Lodge are not happy that the parade will pass near their homes but they do not want any trouble either,” he said.

A spokesman for the United Districts Committee said that while he expressed “disgust” at the re-routing of their traditional parade again, it would not “detract” from their celebration.

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And he said he was very hopeful that this year’s parade would pass off peacefully.

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