Orange Order again banned from Ardoyne march
Tensions mount as marchers pledge to walk same route they were previously prevented from using
Loyalist protesters climb on an armoured police vehicle in the Woodvale Road area of north Belfast last Sunday. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
A loyalist protester gestures to the police in the Woodvale Road area of north Belfast last Sunday. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
Loyalists confront police in north Belfaston Friday, the Twelfth of July. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire
A young girl is rushed to safety as loyalists clashed with police in the Woodvale Road area of north Belfast last Friday. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
The commission in its determination issued this afternoon has ruled that the parade of 500 Orangemen and three bands must end at the junction of Woodvale Road and Woodvale Parade 300 metres short of the shops.
The order had sought permission to parade onto the Crumlin Road, past the shops and onto Ligoniel Orange Hall and thus effectively complete its Twelfth of July return evening parade.
The order made clear this afternoon that it plans to proceed with Saturday’s restricted parade. “Amid the obvious anger which has manifested itself over recent days, to which the commission must bear full responsibility, Grand Lodge would once again appeal for calm,” a spokesman said.
“People are entitled to express their views through peaceful protest in a democratic society – however, those intent on causing trouble should stay away from Saturday’s parade,” he added. “Violence is counterproductive and serves no purpose, only damaging the cause of Orangeism.”
If the order presses ahead with Saturday’s parade, there is again strong potential for a standoff and further disorder, as this was the scene of fierce violence on the evening of last Friday - the Twelfth of July - when loyalists and Orangemen attacked police lines.
The commission has also ruled that the parade which is due to start from the Shankill area at 2.45 pm must disperse by 4.30 pm on Saturday.
Before issuing its determination, the commission heard representations today from Sinn Fein, the SDLP, the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association and written representations from residents living on Woodvale Road and Woodvale Parade.
The commission said it was “disappointed it did not receive any representations from the parade organiser (the Orange Order) or from any unionist politicians”.
While the level of violence has been scaling down in the past two days since the major disturbances at the weekend, the Orange Order’s decision to again seek to parade past the Ardoyne shops will re-heighten tensions.
Sinn Fein North Belfast Assembly member Gerry Kelly said the commission’s ruling was sensible. “Whoever in the Orange Order thought this was a good move needs to reflect on how it has increased tensions and done absolutely nothing to point towards a resolution of the situation,” he said.
“The Orange Order in Belfast need to step out of the bubble they are living in. They cannot threaten and intimidate people into getting their way and can no longer ignore the feelings of people their parades affect in a negative way,” added Mr Kelly.
“What needs to happen now is for the Orange Order to step back from their confrontational mode and for wise heads to prevail. Dialogue between the parade organisers and the residents affected is the way to resolve this issue, not by increasing tensions with further parades,” he said.
SDLP North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness also welcomed the decision. “I hope that the Orange Order and others will observe and respect this decision,” he said.
“The Orange Order might consider that Peter Robinson and (Ulster Unionist leader) Mike Nesbitt both urged people in a joint statement from all party leaders to observe the Parades Commission determination before the 12th,” he added. “I hope that people remain calm in light of this decision and give the opportunity for local dialogue to be re-established and for a peaceful backdrop to the Haass talks.”
The Orange Order made its application for this latest parade on Wednesday, the same day that US diplomat Dr Richard Haass arrived in Belfast to chair the first all-party Assembly group charged with trying to find a resolution to issues such as parading, protests, flags, emblems and the past.