County Grand Lodge of Belfast 'supports' Ardoyne parading deal

The loyalist camp at Twaddell Avenue
The loyalist camp at Twaddell Avenue

The County Grand Lodge of Belfast has said it supports the Ardoyne parading deal presented to residents last night.

In a statement, the Grand Lodge said it now looked forward to the "lodges and bands completing their 2013 Twelfth of July parade."

Their statement came after First Minister Arlene Foster welcomed the breakthrough.

Speaking this morning at a DUP breakfast in Omagh the DUP Leader said,

"The agreement reached between three Orange Order lodges in North Belfast and Ardoyne residents representatives comes about following engagement in a local dialogue process.

The understanding they have reached is a welcome development and is a significant step given this has been an initiative between the Orange and local residents.

I said at the start of the summer that we all have a responsibility to show leadership and to continue to seek resolutions to contentious issues through discussion and to ensure any difficulties are identified and resolved peacefully.  By doing so we become stronger as a community and a country.

I thank all those involved.  We want to build a future that is respectful, inclusive and vibrant.  Northern Ireland can have a very bright future built on respect and celebration of diversity." 

Opposition leader Mike Nesbitt also welcomed the deal.

"This will be an enormous relief to most. While the camp at Twaddell may have offered a focal point for justified frustration and anger in the early days of the impasse, it had become an expensive and ineffective initiative.

"I hope the parade will now be allowed to pass peacefully and respectfully."

North Belfast SDLP MLA Nichola Mallon added her support for the deal but said the details would have to be examined.

“The SDLP has always worked with the Ardoyne community for a lasting resolution to the issue of parades. We welcome any agreed resolution which can gain local community support.

“In all situations where trust is absent, the detail of any deal is critical.

“It is important to recognise that the completely voluntary nature of this deal between CARA and the Orange Order is a source of genuine anxiety and real concern for the people of Ardoyne given all of the previous actions of the Orange Order and the behaviour of local lodges, bands and supporters particularly over the last three years. These concerns were strongly expressed by the residents who attended the public meeting where this deal was revealed.

“While this deal can be welcomed now, previous experience over many years warrants an air of caution. The success of this deal can only be judged in the long term.”

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds also gave the agreement a guarded welcome.

"The deal announced this morning comes about as a result of direct local engagement. This is a very significant development and clearly the full details and longer term ramifications of the deal will be studied as they emerge.

"We have always supported the reasonable call by the three Orange Lodges to be allowed to process along the main arterial route and return home as part of their 12th July parade. We have supported the peaceful protest at the denial of the their human rights. And we will continue to support the Orange Brethren in the three lodges, and more widely, in the coming days.

"The Twaddell impasse arose out of a perverse Parades commission decision on the one hand and a total lack of respect for cultural expression on the other. It remains to be seen whether the problems created by the Parades Commission and the intolerance of the unionist identity can be tackled in the long run.

"We support the fundamental right of peaceful assembly and no one should have a veto over its exercise. Hopefully we can build a society where there is mutual acceptance and tolerance of expressions of cultural identity which are peaceful, respectful and non threatening."

Belfast Police Commander, Chief Superintendent Chris Noble also welcomed the deal.

"The Police Service welcomes the news of a local agreement in relation to the challenges surrounding parades and protests at Twaddell/Crumlin Road in North Belfast. 

"I and my officers look forward to stepping back from the significant policing operation that has been ongoing for some time.

"We will continue to work with all communities to secure a long term resolution of the issues surrounding parades and protests in Belfast."