Northern Ireland

Ardoyne: Orange Order says agreement around north Belfast parade dispute has ‘collapsed’

Order members have applied for parades on July 12

Colm Lenahghan portfolio
Trouble has erupted during Orange Order parades in north Belfast in the past. PICTURE: COLM LENAGHAN

The Orange Order has said there has been a “collapse” of an agreement around a controversial north Belfast parade.

In a statement, the order also claimed that the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA) had “weaponised the dialogue process”.

It comes after it emerged Orange Order members had applied for a contentious parade through a flashpoint area despite doing a deal with nationalist residents.

Local people voiced concern after it emerged that Ligoniel Loyal Order notified the Parades Commission of its intention to parade past the Ardoyne, Mountainview and Dales area on July 12.

The planned parade is expected to include one band and up to 90 participants.

Violence has erupted in the past after Twelfth of July parades were blocked from passing through the area resulting in a loyalist protest camp being set up in Twaddell Avenue in 2013.

In 2016 an agreement saw a voluntary moratorium placed on future return parades, and as a result, the 2017 march took place without protest from Ardoyne residents for the first time in almost two decades.

However, earlier this week CARA said that three lodges linked to the 2016 agreement have now broken the pact.

Another residents group, Greater Ardoyne Residents’ Collective (GARC), also warned that if the parade is given the green light by the Parades Commission it will hold a “counter march”.

But in a statement on Thursday, the Orange Order said the 2016 deal has broken down.

Spencer Beattie, Belfast County Grand Master, said: “For nearly eight years, the Orange Order and its community partners within the local area of north Belfast have honoured its commitment to an agreement reached in 2016, which included a voluntary moratorium on applying for a return parade on the 12th of July.

“Hundreds of hours of work and dozens of face-to-face discussions have been undermined by Cara, who have weaponised the dialogue process.

“This cynical and malicious refusal to allow the three local Orange lodges and their Protestant neighbours the right to return home is a flagrant breach of the agreement and a blatant disregard for the most fundamental of human rights.

“Regrettably, this bad faith dialogue on the part of Cara has meant a collapse of the 2016 parading agreement.”

He added: “We remain resolute in our commitment to ensuring that the three local orange order lodges and the Protestant community’s right to return home is upheld, no matter the opposition or threat of violence”.

The Parades Commission is due to make a decision by July 3.