North Belfast Cavehill parade takes place after residents' concerns
An Orange Order parade in north Belfast - which had sparked fears among residents it was being held to create division in the mixed are - has taken place.
The parade which marched to the home of the incoming Master of the Cavehill Temperance Lodge was held in Kilcoole on Friday night. It was accompanied by the Sons of Ulster flute band.
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It had prompted concern among residents of the mixed area to voice concerns, claiming the parade is being orchestrated to cause division in the area.
Residents said there has never been a parade of its type before and felt it was a deliberate attempt to create a new contentious parade. However, the lodge said it was being reconstituted and dated back to 1956.
The Parades Commission, in its determination, said it had received "substantial representation" from residents who thought it was the first of its kind. It said there had been parades in the past most recently one in 2016 and two in 2013 and there had been no complaints. It determined the imposition of conditions as not necessary or proportionate.
In response to the concerns the lodge said the occasion was a "once in a life time" event and it had listened to residents' concerns and re-routed to the shortest possible route in order to gain "general acceptance".
Former MLA for the area Nelson McCausland described the event as a "lovely evening".
"And it was good to see so many residents of the area watching the lodge as they made their way to the home of the incoming Worshipful Master.
"The attempts by Sinn Fein and others to demonise the lodge failed and the brethren deserve credit for the responsible way in which they dealt with the situation."
Last month ahead of the parade, flyers were put through residents' doors with the lodge saying it will hold a "floating of the banner" parade to deliver a banner to its incoming master ahead of the Twelfth demonstrations.
It was signed by Ron McDowell of the Cavehill Temperance Lodge and set out the reasons for the parade.
"In a lodge the size of ours (some 49 members) this only occurs once in a lifetime... it is a prestigious occasion where everyone rallies round providing sandwiches, chairs etc for lodge members to ensure a festive atmosphere," the flyer said.
"To those who have objected to this parade we would say we have listened to your concerns as best relayed to us and have attempted to address the same.
"In response to those concerns voluntarily rerouted our parade to the shortest route possible and a route which we would hope will gain general acceptance."
Sinn Fein said residents "felt vulnerable" not just with the forthcoming parade but also with loyalist flags put around the area and wanted to maintain good relations which had built up in the area.
Belfast Telegraph Digital