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Rival factions take to the streets in tense stand-off

Several hundred people in rival factions were involved in a tense stand-off in north Belfast on a day of high tension following the controversial blocking of a parade in the area.

Around 200 loyalists staged a protest on Clifton Street. They gathered at around 4.30pm, the same time a nationalist residents' protest was due to take place at the nearby St Patrick's Church on Donegall Street.

However, following the decision by the Parades Commission to rule that a Twelfth feeder parade could not return past Ardoyne on Friday, the Carrick Hill Concerned Residents Group called off its proposed protest outside the Catholic church.

Hundreds of nationalist residents then congregated further along Clifton Street with taunts exchanged between the two groups.

Police managed to keep both sides apart.

Nationalist residents had planned to walk from a number of locations to St Patrick's Church, where a short sit-down protest was to take place.

It was agreed 150 people would take part, setting off at 4.30pm and returning at 5pm.

Two Ardoyne residents' groups announced they have called off protests planned for tomorrow in response to the Parades Commission ruling.

Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association spokesman Joe Marley said: "We held a public meeting tonight with local residents to update on the recent talks with the Orange Order, the subsequent determination by the Parades Commission and to discuss plans for Friday.

"Around 150 residents were in attendance and the general tone of the meeting was constructive with consensus that Ardoyne deserved a trouble free Twelfth of July. CARA informed local residents that the group are withdrawing our protest on the Twelfth morning in an effort to help reduce tensions in the area and as a gesture of goodwill with regards to potential future talks with local lodges."

The Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective also cancelled its protest in light of the decision.

GARC, which claims to represent the majority of residents in Ardoyne, had been given permission for up to 2,000 people to take part in its protest march at 2pm tomorrow.

Belfast Telegraph