Security tightened amid fears of parade-related violence
Concerns centre on reaction to renewed ban on Orangemen parading past Ardoyne area
There were five successive nights of violence after a number of Orange lodges were prevented from parading past the nationalist Ardoyne area at the end of traditional Twelfth of July Orange Order commemorations last Friday. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
Police in Northern Ireland have mounted another major security operation in Belfast today amid fears of further parade-related violence.
The concerns centre on potential loyalist reaction to a renewed ban on Orangemen parading along a contentious stretch of road in the north of the city.
There were five successive nights of violence after a number of Orange lodges were prevented from parading past the nationalist Ardoyne area at the end of traditional Twelfth of July Orange Order commemorations last Friday.
In an unexpected move earlier this week, Orangemen made a new application to the Parades Commission adjudication body to march the disputed Crumlin Road section of the route today.
That bid was again rejected by the commission — a move that is likely to prompt another stand-off between police and protesters at the same community interface area later.
Since trouble first flared eight days ago, more than 70 police officers have been injured in the clashes with about 75 people arrested.
Much of the trouble has been witnessed in the loyalist Woodvale Road area close to the Ardoyne. It is there where the Orangemen and their supporters have been prevented by police from continuing forward on to the Crumlin Road.
The Orangemen will again attempt to parade up to the police lines today.
The Orange Institution has branded the latest Parades Commission decision an indictment of a discredited organisation but has appealed for peace on the streets, insisting those intent on trouble should stay away.
The commission expressed disappointment the Orange Order and unionist politicians refused to engage with it as it considered the parade application.
Yesterday Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers warned that further violence would only serve to undermine efforts to bring jobs and investment to the region.
Last year, republicans rioted in Ardoyne when the Orange lodges were permitted to parade on Crumlin Road as they returned from Twelfth events.
Sinn Fein and the SDLP have heavily criticised the Orangemen for lodging a second application to parade this weekend following last week’s violence, branding the move “irresponsible”.
In a statement released tonight, the Orange Order said it was determined its campaign of protests would continue but urged people intent on violence to stay away.
Belfast County Grand Master George Chittick said: “The planned parade to protest at the demeaning determination of the Parades Commission must be peaceful. The only way the Orange family will achieve their objectives — to see the Ligoniel lodges home and the Parades Commission disbanded — is by peaceful means. Anyone who is coming to the parade must be committed to protesting peacefully and dispersing when asked to do so.”
The institution said it would be distributing leaflets to all participants, encouraging peaceful protest.