Northern Ireland

Ardoyne parades deal fails after nationalists pull out

A deal that would allow Orangemen to walk past nationalist homes in the Ardoyne area has collapsed
A deal that would allow Orangemen to walk past nationalist homes in the Ardoyne area has collapsed

A DEAL to end the Ardoyne parade stand-off collapsed after an Orange Order lodge refused to support it.

It is understood nationalists pulled out of the proposed pact when the Ballysillan-based lodge involved in the dispute rejected it.

Under the agreement between the Orange Order and Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents Association (Cara), Orangemen and bands would have marched past nationalist homes in Ardoyne this Friday morning - the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.

The deal was brokered by Methodist minister Harold Good and Derry businessman Jim Roddy over recent months.

In return a loyalist protest camp on waste ground at Twaddell would have been dismantled and the order would agree not to return past Ardoyne on July 12.

Although details of the deal have not been made public, it is understood a parades forum would also be established and a moratorium on return parades put in place until a long-term agreement was reached.

A second nationalist group, Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (Garc), which was not involved in the process, said it would oppose any deal.

In a statement issued last night, Rev Good and Mr Roddy confirmed that over recent weeks they had "spent some time taking soundings from various people with a view to finding a resolution to the issues surrounding parading and protests at the Twaddell/Crumlin Road interface".

“Despite some positive feedback on our ideas we have been unable to achieve

agreement for a resolution at this moment in time.”

The County Grand Lodge of Belfast said it "very much regrets" the initiative did not succeed.

“We thank those involved for their efforts and input.”

It added that it will continue to support the lodges involved in the stand-off.

Despite the Ballysillan lodge rejecting the plan, The Irish News understands that the Orange Order was prepared to support a march on Friday involving the other two lodges.

Cara did not respond to calls yesterday.

The Ballysillan lodge also declined to comment.

A spokesman for Garc said the only solution to the dispute involves using an alternative route at Harmony Lane.

”Garc remain willing to oppose all sectarian parades and will reject any sordid deal between a political party and loyalist paramilitaries that rewards the loyal orders for putting our people under siege for the last three years,” he said.

In 2013 serious violence erupted after the Parades Commission banned Orangemen from passing the Ardoyne interface on their return from the main Twelfth demonstration.

A loyalist protest camp was later set up and almost daily protest parades have taken place since then.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly praised those involved in trying to reach a deal.

He added that politicians “have a responsibility to continue to do all in our power to support those in local communities involved in seeking resolution to contentious issues through dialogue”.

SDLP assembly member Nichola Mallon also said the only way agreement can be achieved is “through direct, sustained and meaningful dialogue”.