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Deal finally struck to bring an end to Ardoyne parade dispute


Members of the Orange Order at the height of the Twaddell Avenue dispute

Members of the Orange Order at the height of the Twaddell Avenue dispute

Kevin Scott / Presseye

Members of the Orange Order at the height of the Twaddell Avenue dispute

An agreement has been reached over the long-running north Belfast parade dispute.

It is understood that - subject to Parades Commission approval - a return march will pass Ardoyne shops next Saturday morning at 8am.

The parade looks set to bring to an end the dispute at north Belfast's Twaddell Avenue-Crumlin Road intersection.

The deal will also see the dismantling of the controversial Twaddell protest camp.

Policing the site has cost the public purse more than £20m since it opened in 2013.

A meeting of local residents was called to discuss the issue of parades on the Crumlin Road and the Twaddell protest camp.

The deal was facilitated by the Rev Harold Good and Derry businessman Jim Roddy.

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In a joint statement, the negotiators welcomed the deal. "We are pleased to announce a local agreement has been reached to bring an end to the difficulties surrounding parades and protests in the Twaddell-Crumlin Road area," they said.

"The agreement has the full support of the three lodges and the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents' Association."

"The full text of the agreement will be made available to the media tomorrow (Saturday)," the statement concluded.

A spokesman for the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents' Association added: "This is the best deal for the residents affected by the parade. Evening violence will be eradicated. The removal of camp Twaddell will also let those in the area get on with their lives without a heavy police presence every night and the constant tension that comes with that."

The Orange Order has also endorsed the proposal, following a hush-hush meeting held on Wednesday night.

Reports indicate that an application is to be made to the Parades Commission for the three lodges who are party to the dispute to march up the Crumlin Road with two bands early next Saturday morning, thus completing their interrupted 12th July procession from the summer of 2013.

In return, the protest camp at Twaddell Avenue will be taken down and no future application for a 12th of July return parade will be made without agreement between the Orange Order and the local residents.

The deal was also welcomed by Secretary of State James Brokenshire, who said: "I commend the representatives of the Orange Order and the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents' Association for their efforts in negotiating this solution.

"This is a clear demonstration that local dialogue can work and offers up the best chance of resolving disputes like this."

A spokesman for the Police Federation of Northern Ireland said the agreement would "help to take some of the pressure off" those officers struggling on the frontline of the dispute.

"We obviously commend all those who played a part in making this resolution possible," it added.

by david young

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