The first contentious parade of the marching season passed off peacefully last night, despite concern that dissident republicans may have tried to orchestrate disturbances.
There was a very low key police presence across north Belfast for the Tour of the North, however full police resources were on standby.
A small number of residents staged protests at two potential flashpoint areas, but they were kept well away from the parade by community representatives.
In the Manor Street/Alloa Street area one protester, draped in a tricolour, was reprimanded by community representatives for straying too close to the parade.
At a flashpoint area between North Queen Street and Tiger’s Bay a handful of around 30 protesters stood in silence while supporters cheered as the parade went past. One bottle was thrown by a protester, who was ordered to leave by a community worker.
This year the Orangemen avoided the Ardoyne shops flashpoint. They marched along the Crumlin Road, Oldpark Road and Manor Street/Alloa Street, but were re-routed back onto the Crumlin Road, where they handed in a let
ter of protest to the PSNI. There had been fears violence could erupt and police and community groups have been working for months to try and ensure the event would pass off peacefully.
The peaceful outcome of this year’s parade suggests that relations are continuing to improve in interface areas of north Belfast and has raised hopes that other contentious parades will also go without major incident.
Over 1,000 people turned out for last night’s parade. The majority appeared to have adhered to a warning by police against street drinking, which was much less visible than in previous years.