North Belfast Orangemen to avoid Ardoyne police standoff

Guarded hope contentious Twelfth of July parades will pass off relatively peacefully

The Orange Order had decided that its return feeder parade that is barred from passing by the Ardoyne shops will not seek to engage in a standoff with police in north Belfast tomorrow evening. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

The Orange Order had decided that its return feeder parade that is barred from passing by the Ardoyne shops will not seek to engage in a standoff with police in north Belfast tomorrow evening. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

The Orange Order had decided that its return feeder parade that is barred from passing by the Ardoyne shops will not seek to engage in a standoff with police in north Belfast tomorrow evening.

The decision has prompted guarded hope that the Twelfth of July parades throughout Northern Ireland tomorrow will pass off relatively peacefully.

There was severe loyalist violence in north Belfast on the Twelfth Night last year and several days of disorder thereafter when Orangemen were blocked at the top of the Woodvale Road from parading past the Ardoyne shops.

This year however the three Ligoniel returning Orange lodges will parade close to the police lines at the top of the Woodvale Road accompanied by a number of bands. They will stop at a line of marshals where the bands will play music, explained Belfast deputy grand master Spencer Beattie this afternoon.

A short statement will be read at the scene after which the lodges and the bands will parade back to the west Belfast Orange hall on the Shankill and “disperse”, said Mr Beattie.

Mr Beattie referred to the “Camp Twaddell” Orange/loyalist protest site that has been in place in north Belfast since last year. He said this protest had been peaceful while warning that tomorrow “one stone thrown would undermine the commitment and dedication of the many thousand who have supported our cause”.

“I would repeat again that our response to republican agitation and the threat of violence must be lawful and peaceful, if anyone is intent on causing trouble you will not be welcome at any of our protests,” he said in advance of tomorrow evening’s controversial parade.

“Please obey the requests of the marshalls when asked and disperse promptly when the protest is over,” urged Mr Beattie.

He referred to how the combined unionist, loyalist and Orange grouping has pledged there will be continuing protests in the weeks and months ahead against the Parades Commission ruling barring Orangemen from parading past the shops along Crumlin Road.

“There will be ample opportunities in the weeks ahead to ensure our voice and our case will be heard in the corridors of power. The Parades Commissioners will be left in no doubt of the mood of the unionist family,” said Mr Beattie.

As part of the protests against the decision all 17 main Orange Order parades will be halted for six minutes tomorrow which according to the order is “the length of time it takes the Ligoniel parade to walk past the Crumlin Road”.

In addition protests will be held tomorrow evening throughout the North but not in “contentious areas”, according to the order.

The PSNI is planning a major security operation in north Belfast and elsewhere in Northern Ireland to try to ensure the Twelfth concludes peacefully.

Mr Beattie said that the “Orange Institution and our partners in the unionist family have pledged themselves to peaceful, lawful protest and political action”.

“We will not allow the ways of the past to pollute the progress we seek for a stable peaceful Northern Ireland,” he added.