Parades Commission says Orange Order march must pass Ardoyne earlier than previous years

Friday 06 July 2012 20.13
There was disruption at the Ardoyne interface during last year's Orange Order march
There was disruption at the Ardoyne interface during last year's Orange Order march

Northern Ireland’s Parades Commission has ruled that the return leg of a contentious Orange Order march in north Belfast next week must be clear of the interface at the Ardoyne shop fronts by 4pm.

This would mean the parade will be several hours earlier than in previous years.

The Commission says the timing was brought forward in an effort to reduce public disorder and disruption to local residents.

The shops on the Crumlin Road have long been a trouble spot.

Last year police were injured as crowds of more than 200 people threw petrol bombs and other missiles at them.

The Commission ruled that the Orange Order march is a "traditional parade which has considerable significance in the Protestant community".

However, it acknowledged that "should the parade process without restriction, there will be an adverse effect on already fragile community relations and potential for public disorder".

The watchdog also called for "all local political representatives, clergy, community activists and those persons with influence" to use it to reduce the potential for violence and “enhance the potential for robust, durable and good community relations".

The determination has been criticised by some.

Sinn Féin's MLA for North Belfast, Gerry Kelly, said it had "the potential to make the situation worse." 

Gerry Kelly said "what the residents called for was there be no unwanted loyalist parades marching through the nationalist areas of Ardoyne, Mountainview and the Dales".

He added that there was "a need for dialogue" but once again the Orange Order has been "rewarded for refusing to engage in meaningful talks to reach a resolution".

The DUP say that in the next few days they will be discussing the situation with the North and West Belfast Parades Forum, a group which includes loyalists and Orangemen.

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