Northern Ireland

Nationalist residents’ group rejects Orange Order fresh parade proposal past Ardoyne shops flashpoint

Violence has flared at north Belfast interface in previous years

Protesters face police in Ardoyne following an Orange Order parade in 2012
Protesters face police in Ardoyne following an Orange Order parade in 2012 (Niall Carson/PA)

A north Belfast residents’ group has rejected a proposal by the Orange Order to hold a “replacement” parade past a nationalist area describing it as “an initiative” aimed at resolving a parades row.

Greater Ardoyne Residents’ Collective (GARC) dismissed the proposal to shift the return date of a planned Twelfth parade past the nationalist Ardoyne district from the evening of the Twelfth to the morning of July 13.

In a statement, the County Grand Lodge of Belfast said it was “a genuine and serious attempt” to settle things.

Currently, there have been five agreed parades along the disputed route per year - all in the morning.

But a deal on a sixth, an evening ‘return’ parade on 12 July, was never achieved and talks with the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (Cara) broke down.

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 a statement the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast said that “after careful consideration, and a period of intensive consultation involving the Orange Institution, the local community and political representatives” it was “announcing an initiative aimed at resolving the outstanding differences around parading on the Crumlin Road”.

The statement said that in a “genuine and serious attempt to overcome our differences and as a solution to address the contention surrounding the evening return parade” the order is proposing “its replacement with a morning homeward return parade on the 13th of July”.

A notification on the Parades Commission website from The Ligoniel Lodges Combine confirms the intended July 13 parade will set off from Woodvale Road at 10am and is expected to include one band and 150 participants – 60 more than the original July 12 notification – which has not been withdrawn.

A spokesman for Greater Ardoyne Residents’ Collective (GARC) rejected the Orange Order proposal.

The group has previously warned it will hold a “counter march” if the July 12 march is given the green light by the Parades Commission.

“That’s a non-runner as far as GARC is concerned because we are opposed to all sectarian parades, whether in the morning or in the evening,” a spokesman said.

The spokesman added that the Orange Order proposal is not a “solution”, suggesting that an alternative route at Harmony Lane could be used.

Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA), has applied to hold a protest during the planned July 12 parade involving up to 100 participants.

CARA previously said three lodges linked to the 2016 agreement have now broken the pact.

“The people of the area have had peace and normality in their lives since 2016 and want that to continue into the future,” the group said.

The Parades Commission is due to consider the contentious march on June 3.