Northern Ireland

Parades Commmission: Orange Order application to march past Ardoyne shops showed 'disregard' for parading deal

Orange Order members march past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast in 2017. Picture by Hugh Russell
Orange Order members march past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast in 2017. Picture by Hugh Russell Orange Order members march past the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast in 2017. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE Parades Commission has ruled an application for an Orange Order parade at a flashpoint in north Belfast showed an "egregious disregard" for a local agreement that ended a long-running dispute over marching in the area.

Ballysillan LOL 1891 had applied for a feeder march to take place past the Ardoyne shops roundabout as part of the annual Whiterock Parade this Saturday.

The Parades Commission determined the parade must not pass the shops area, and said that there was a "potential for serious public disorder" if the full parade was to take place.

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A deal was struck between north Belfast lodges and Ardoyne residents in 2016, bringing to an end a years-long dispute over parading that saw a protest camp erected by loyalists in the Twadell area.

The area had been the scene of violence after Twelfth of July parades were blocked from passing the shops in previous years, and the PSNI faced a £20 million bill to police the stand-off.

Police used water cannon after coming under attack in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast in 2011. Picture by Pacemaker
Police used water cannon after coming under attack in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast in 2011. Picture by Pacemaker Police used water cannon after coming under attack in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast in 2011. Picture by Pacemaker

The 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.

A Parades Commission ruling on Tuesday referred to the "long and violent history of parading" in the area, and said the 2016 deal between lodges and the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA) was "hard won after long and difficult negotiations in which both sides made costly concessions to achieve an objective of peace and order".

It added: "Both sides had to work hard to sell this agreement to their communities."

CARA had objected to Saturday's parade application.

The ruling states the application was a "clear breach" of the 2016 agreement.

"It is a wanton disregard for the efforts made in acutely difficult circumstances to achieve a local agreement, and an egregious disregard for the six years of peace it secured. It serves only to heighten tensions in a period of political instability and risks serious public disorder," the ruling states.

It added that if the parade progressed along the full notified route, "there would be an adverse effect on community relations".

The determination states the parade must turn back along its Crumlin Road route at the junction with Wheatfield Gardens.

Welcoming the decision, North Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said: “I note that the Parades Commission has recognised that this contentious parade was in fact a breach of the agreement between the Ligoniel Orange lodges and the residents and I welcome the ruling that this parade will not pass down by Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales.

"Sinn Féin will continue to monitor all applications for parades which fall outside the 2016 Agreement.” 

The Irish News contacted the Orange Order for a response.