Belfast Telegraph

Thousands expected for north Belfast loyalist parade

By Bob Malcolm

UP TO 10,000 loyalists are to take part in a protest parade in Belfast on Saturday, the day after the Richard Haass talks about flags, emblems, parades, and the past come to a close.

Meanwhile loyalist protesters at the Twaddell Avenue have vowed that they will man their posts 24 hours a day until Christmas and beyond.

The Parades Commission yesterday restricted Saturday's parade to leaving City Hall no later than 12.30 – as opposed the 2pm start parade organisers 'Loyalist Peaceful Protesters' had supposed.

In its determination the Parades Commission stated that it had had "no engagement from those organising and supporting this parade.

"The Commission is disappointed that to date it has not received any representations from Unionist politicians."

It also notes that this is not a "traditional parade" and that it "reaffirms the need for all those taking part in parades and protests to do so in a dignified manner."

The determination states that the parade should provide adequate marshals and take any advice given by police on the day.

There are expected to be 20 bands, 5,000 participants and 5,000 supporters involved in the parade.

Traffic is expected to be affected as the marchers begin mustering at City Hall before s marching along Royal Avenue, North Street, the Shankill Road and the Woodvale Road.

The parade will finish at Woodvale Parade, the same spot where an Orange Order feeder parade was blocked on July 12, preventing it proceeding along the Crumlin Road, past the Ardoyne shops. This led to scenes of violence and destruction in north Belfast as loyalists attacked police lines.

A poster created by the Loyalist Peaceful Protesters states the reason for the parade is: "To highlight political policing and to show support for our fellow flag protesters who are in prison or under house arrest.

"We would also like to show our support for our bandsmen and Orange Order."

Meanwhile, loyalist protesters stationed in the camp at Twaddell Avenue have maintained a presence for 66 days, and there have been over 50 parades/protests at the north Belfast interface since July 12 this year.

Their camp was erected after police barred the way of the July 12 Orange Order parade in north Belfast from passing the Ardoyne shops.

The camp contains a caravan decked out with numerous Union Flags, bunting, and a makeshift cabin and tent are present.

It is alleged that the cost of policing the camp is estimated to be around £55k a night. To date protests at the site have been peaceful and the PSNI have not made any arrests.

Culture Minister and North Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Caral Ni Chuilin has accused loyalists in the area of heightening tensions.

Saturday's parade will come at the conclusion of the first round of talks led by Dr Richard Haass, who was US envoy to Northern Ireland under George Bush's presidency.

He arrived at the Europa Hotel on Tuesday, September 17, to begin a series of talks with the five Northern Ireland Executive parties. He will also meet senior clergy and business figures as well as representatives from some of the smaller political parties during his time here.

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