Ruling on interface march welcomed by nationalists
NATIONALISTS have welcomed a decision by the Parades commission to stop an orange order march passing a north Belfast interface this weekend. The ruling came after an intense round of meetings over the past week to broker a deal at one of Northern Ireland's worst flashpoints.
It is understood talks organised by church leaders will resume again next week. The orange order had wanted to bring two bands and up to 140 participants past nationalist homes at Ardoyne at 9am on Saturday. Tensions in the area spilled into serious violence after the Parades com-mission banned orangemen from the stretch of the crumlin road on July 12 last year.
Since then loyalists have held almost daily demonstrations and set up an illegal protest camp close to the Ardoyne and twaddell interface.
After a meeting with the Parades commission last week, SDLP leader Dr Alasdair Mcdonnell warned of "serious consequences" if the latest controversial march was given the go-ahead. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also joined a Sinn Fein delegation that met commission members, while First Minister Peter Robinson held a meeting with them on tuesday.
Nationalist residents groups including Greater Ardoyne residents' collective met with the Parades commission earlier this week.
Spokesman dee Fennell last night said the ruling was "the only sensible decision".
"We met the Parades commission and were forthright in our views and were very assertive that we would be taking radical action to oppose this parade," he said.
He added that an alternative route exists which "would not offend anyone".
Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly claimed the planned parade was "about unionism trying actively to undermine the Parades commission".
"the behaviour of the loyal orders and paramilitaries since last year's return parade was restricted by the Parades commission has been scandalous," he said.
"the camp at twaddell, countless illegal marches and paramilitary displays at a sensitive interface have all been about increasing tension and bringing pressure to bear on the Parades commission to force a march through the area."
SdlP assembly member Alban McGuinness welcomed the decision but urged all sides in the dispute to keep talking.
"Following Saturday, it is crucial that the ongoing dialogue between the loyal orders and residents continues and is encouraged by everyone who wants to see a peaceful resolution to what is one of the most contentious parades in Belfast and the north of Ireland," he said.
In its determination the Parades commission said should the parade go ahead as planned there "will be an adverse effect on community relations, significant disruption to the life of the community and the potential for public disorder".
A spokesman for the orange order said it was disappointed by the decision.
"Six minutes is all it will take for the ligoniel lodges and accompanying bands to process peacefully along the main arterial route of the crumlin road," he said.