Belfast Telegraph

Orange Order plans more parades but says: nobody wants a long haul

By Chris Kilpatrick

There is no appetite within the Orange Order for prolonged protest at a north Belfast interface, its county grand chaplain has said despite planned further parades.

The Order has lodged applications for the parades over the next three consecutive weekends, including the contentious route along Crumlin Road past Ardoyne.

It follows the blocking of two parades along the road, on the Twelfth and a subsequent protest parade last Saturday.

Belfast county grand chaplain Rev Mervyn Gibson has told the Belfast Telegraph there is no reason why the situation should become a long-running dispute, similar to that at Drumcree.

DUP MLA Nelson McCausland called Saturday's protest parade "the start of a long campaign".

But Mr Gibson told the Belfast Telegraph: "I think nobody wants the long haul.

"If everybody plays their part in resolving these issues I don't see any need for a long haul.

"The Liogniel lodges going home, that could be resolved quickly if there's toleration. The Parades Commission, I think, is already a done deal, it's just when – and by a done deal I mean they're gone.

"The key question for me is the shared future. We keep hearing about the Londonderry model. I would ask how republicans in Londonderry accept the parade but those in Belfast can't accept 300 metres of a parade."

The Order has applied to walk the Crumlin Road this Saturday and on August 3 and August 10.

On Sunday, Dr Rob Craig, moderator of the Presbyterian Church, called on the Orange Order to stand back from its protest.

He said: "Let's cool down. If you'll listen to me, take time to reflect and see we will resolve this."

However, loyalist community worker and PUP member Winston Irvine said those within the unionist community in north Belfast were prepared to continue with protests.

"I think the foundations were laid for a peaceful campaign against this Commission and the decisions it has taken," he said.

"I also believe people are in this for the long run.

"Just because the Commission has caved into violence doesn't mean everybody else will.

"As far as the PUP is concerned, we will fully support the lodges, bands and wider community in seeking to reinstate the Twelfth of July to its normal presence and to see the end of this Commission."

Mr Gibson said the Order would "engage with anyone" to resolve the stalemate, including nationalist residents in Ardoyne.

Thousands of Orange Order members, bandsmen and supporters were blocked from marching the contested stretch of road separating loyalist and nationalist communities on Saturday but there was no repeat of the violence that erupted after the annual Twelfth of July commemorations.

Hundreds of riot squad officers and armoured Land Rovers were deployed to the area but community beat officers were put at the front of police lines on Woodvale Road in a bid to ease tensions.

The Orange Order also had about 30 marshals on site who distributed leaflets warning troublemakers to stay away. "The protest on Saturday was peaceful because of the planning that went into it and was the same result we had aimed to achieve on the Twelfth but the numbers present on the street prevented that, and sadly it went into violence," said Mr Gibson.

"We appealed for calm ahead of the Twelfth but on the day there's tens of thousands on the street, there's drink consumed. There were a lot of factors which mitigated against us."

On July 12 a crowd of around 5,000 was involved in a stand-off with police at Woodvale Parade which quickly spiralled into fierce rioting described as "almost animalistic" by police.


The Orange Order has applied to the Parades Commission to stage another march in north Belfast on Saturday. The Order also wants to parade on August 3 and 10. The routes are the same as the one marchers were prevented from walking on the Twelfth of July. The Order has applied to walk from the Shankill area, along the Woodvale Road to the Crumlin Road before finishing at Ligoniel Orange hall.

Belfast Telegraph


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