Ardoyne: Orange Order accused of 'cranking up tensions' with north Belfast march bid
Sinn Fein has accused the Orange Order of trying to undermine the Parades Commission with its application to march along a contentious route in north Belfast later this month.
The Belfast Telegraph Ardoyne: Orange Order again applies for contentious city parade past north Belfast flashpoint yesterday revealed the Order's application to walk past the flashpoint Ardoyne shop fronts on Sunday, September 28.
If approved by the commission when it deliberates next week, it will be the first time that the Ulster Covenant commemoration march and church service has taken place along this particular contested stretch of the Crumlin Road.
When asked about the choice of venue for the 102nd commemoration, Rev Mervyn Gibson, the Orange Order's Grand Chaplin, insisted: "It is a genuine open-air service organised by No 1 District."
The timing of the application has also been questioned given that the long-running Twadell protest camp – set up in response to an Orange parade being pre vented from passing through Ardoyne on the Twelfth – looks likely to be a key talking point in political discussions to secure the future of Stormont.
Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said that a new application by the Order to march past Ardoyne was an attempt to "undermine the Parades Commission and the process of dialogue.
"The only way to resolve this issue is to sit down and talk and come to a local agreement," he said. "What we do not need at this time is even more parades in this area as loyalists and the Orange Order attempting to crank up tensions."
However, local DUP councillor Brian Kingston said that he hoped the parade would go ahead as planned. "That area is always quite quiet on a Sunday," he said. "I'm always keen that things like this happen in a normal calm atmosphere and that it would be allowed to take place in a calm and dignified manner."
Alliance's Nuala McAllister called on all sides to abide by whatever ruling is made on the parade. "The Parades Commission is the only group that has all the relevant information to make an informed decision as to whether this parade should take place," she said.
The march – from the Shankill area to Woodvale Road and then along along the Crumlin Road past the Ardoyne shops – is to mark the 102nd signing of the Ulster Covenant, one of unionism's most important historical milestones.
Around 350 people are set to take part along with three marching bands.