Northern Ireland

Residents’ group will hold ‘counter march’ if Orange parade allowed through Ardoyne

Orange Order silence over north Belfast flashpoint parade plan

Colm Lenahghan portfolio
Trouble has erupted during Orange Order parades in north Belfast in the past

A north Belfast residents’ group has warned it will hold a “counter march” after it emerged Orange Order members in north Belfast have applied to push 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.

Earlier this week Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA) said that three lodges linked to the 2016 agreement have now broken the pact.

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

A spokesman for the collective said: “It’s GARC’s position that it was our counter marches in 2011 and 2012 that brought the Parades Commission to the decision they took in 2013 and that has led to over 10 years of no evening marches by the loyal orders.”

“But if there’s a return to applications, and if any such application by the Orange Order regarding the parade being granted, then residents will return to the previous strategy, which will be large counter marches at exactly the same time on exactly the same part of the route the loyal orders take through Ardoyne.”

In a statement CARA indicted it would now apply for a protest and will be meeting with the Parades Commission.

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

“The loyal orders still have five morning parades which we agreed not to protest about.

“In line with the agreement we will be adhering to our part in that agreement.”

SDLP councillor Carl Whyte said the previous agreement “ended years of disorder in this area which nobody wants to see any return to”.

“Residents have been clear that they do not want to see any parade on the Twelfth of July given what happened in the past,” he added.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said the development is “deeply concerning”.

“I understand that (CARA) have lodged a protest application in opposition to this parade which we will support,” he said.

The Orange Order was contacted but declined to comment.