Northern Ireland news

Orange Order parade through mixed area given go-ahead

The parade will make its way along Kilcoole Park in north Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

AN Orange Order parade through a mixed area of north Belfast has been given the go-ahead.

The Parades Commission said imposing conditions on the march through Kilcoole Park and Kilcoole Gardens was "not necessary or proportionate".

Concerns had been raised by residents, who claimed the parade on July 6 was being orchestrated to cause division.

People living in the Kilcoole area, off the Ballysillan Road, said there had never been a parade of this type before.

Flyers giving details of the procession to deliver a banner to the home of the 'incoming master' of the Cavehill lodge were put through doors last week.

In its determination, the Parades Commission said it had "received substantial representation from residents in the neighbourhood that it is a mixed peaceful area".

"They were concerned about the parade, which most residents believe was the first in the area."

It said there had been parades in the area in 2016 and 2013 but this was the first application from a "recently re-established" lodge.

Seventy participants and one band will take part, with the march to begin at Ballysillan Independent Church at 7pm and travel along Joanmount Gardens, Ballysillan Road, Kilcoole Park and Kilcoole Gardens.

The commission said organisers had assured it "that the lodge's first steps to address residents' concerns were taken in good faith".

"This included shortening the parade route and organising a leaflet drop informing residents about the parade's purpose to 'float the banner' to the home of the worshipful master in Kilcoole Gardens.

"As the worshipful master's role rotates every year, the route of the 'floating the banner' parade changes year to year.

"The commission understands that supporters will not accompany the parade in Kilcoole Park and Kilcoole Gardens."

It also said it understood there has been "further engagement and communication which has helped to restore confidence within this mixed residential neighbourhood".

Concern has also been raised about loyalist flags erected in the nearby Rosscoole Park, Mountcoole Park and Duncoole Park areas in recent weeks.

Former Alliance mayor Nuala McAllister last night said that following discussions involving herself, the Orange lodge and residents about the parade, we "were able to work together to find a compromise solution, which included an agreement to take down flags in some areas".

“While it was sad to see tensions in the area raised, by taking a collaborative approach we were able to calm tensions, working constructively to find the best solution that respects shared space and enables expressions of culture.

“With any compromise not everyone will be happy, but I think it was important to reflect on dialogue and engage going further to ensure the area remains peaceful.”

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