Orange Order cannot hold return parade past Ardoyne

Wednesday 10 July 2013 13.53
Nationalist protestors clash with police as Orangemen march past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops last year
Nationalist protestors clash with police as Orangemen march past the Nationalist Ardoyne shops last year

Northern Ireland's Parades Commission has decided Orange Order members will not be allowed to march through a nationalist area of north Belfast at the conclusion of their 12 July parade.

It is the first time that such a stipulation has been made by the commission.

In recent years there has been rioting in the area where Orange Lodge members have been permitted to march past nationalist homes in Ardoyne, after taking a route up the Loyalist Shankill Road.

Orange Order members held face-to-face talks with nationalist residents of the area for the first time at the weekend.

But while both sides said the discussions had been positive and useful, they were not able to agree procedures for this year's 12 July parade.

Three leading DUP members have criticised the decision by the Parades Commission.

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds, Stormont minister Nelson McCausland and Assembly member William Humphrey have described the ruling as "totally illogical and inconsistent with events over the past year".

They claimed that local Orange Order members made great efforts to ensure that parades passed off peacefully during the past year while republicans engaged in heavy rioting.

The DUP members accused the Parades Commission of causing massive damage to community relations and to respect for law and order.

They also called for the removal of the Parades Commission and called it a relic of direct rule, outdated and out of control.

A request has been made for an extra 630 police officers to be deployed to Northern Ireland from Britain to help oversee planned parades this weekend.

The 30 units of specially trained public order officers will come from forces across England, Scotland and Wales.

A total of 550 parades are due to take place throughout Northern Ireland on Friday.

The PSNI Chief Constable said the additional officers, trained in the run-up to last month's G8 summit, would help to police the 43 marches deemed to be contentious.

They will not be posted to potential flashpoints, for example Ardoyne in north Belfast where the threat of disorder is high.

Matt Baggott said: "This is a unique year. If you look at the scale - 550 parades, we have 43 that are sensitive - it would be remiss of me not to plan for every eventuality.

"This particular year I thought it was wise and the right thing to do to bring people over."