Northern Ireland news

Hopes for peaceful Twelfth as appeals made for troublemakers to ‘stay away'

Orangemen at police lines on the Woodvale Road in north Belfast

A LEADING Orangeman said on Monday night that there was a mood of "calm" as hopes were raised of a peaceful Twelfth.

Rev Mervyn Gibson urged anyone intent on causing trouble to stay away as police prepare to enforce a ban on lodges passing an interface in Ardoyne in north Belfast.

The Parades Commission has ruled that the Crumlin Road parade can pass nationalist homes this morning but must stop at Woodvale on the way home, as has been the case the for the last four years.

A deal to try to end the parading impasse collapsed last month after one of the three lodges involved rejected the terms, which would have seen Orangemen complete their return journey early in the morning.

The lodges will march to police lines separately on today's return parade, and there are no plans to hand in letters of protest as in previous years.

Sources say the Orange Order is hopeful that this will be the last year the commission rules on contentious marches, with a push to have a new mechanism under the Fresh Start agreement in place by next summer.

Rev Gibson said if "anyone lifts a stone to throw they're no friend to loyalism or the Orange".

"There always a danger of individuals doing something daft, but we all want to see a peaceful Twelfth and a peaceful end to the day," he said.

 

"Anyone interested in causing trouble should stay away and allow the day to pass peacefully for the sake of the entire community."

Holy Cross parish priest Fr Gary Donegan also asked that people from outside the area stay away from the Ardoyne flashpoint.

"We get an influx of what I call Twelfth tourists at this time of year - we can do without those people," he said.

Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents Association spokesman Joe Marley said his group is still willing to hold talks to resolve the dispute.

"Our position is as it was, we remain committed to dialogue and there is an open invitation for the Orange Order to re-engage with us at any time," he said.

"I was glad to see there was no recrimination after the last effort fell down and it leaves us in a better position to re-engage."

A spokesman for Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective said the group, which will hold a protest this morning against the outward parade, was "confident we will have a substantial amount of residents and if people from other areas want to come and protest peacefully they are more than welcome.

"Garc's position is we are opposed to all sectarian parades."

There are also restrictions on a parade in east Belfast, with music banned at a section of the route close to St Matthews Church and the Short Strand.

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