Orange Order parade passes off peacefully

Saturday 20 July 2013 22.13
Several thousand people took part in the march
Several thousand people took part in the march

A controversial Orange Order parade in north Belfast has passed off without incident.

Several thousand people took part in the march which was again prevented by police from passing the nationalist Ardoyne area.

When the parade was held on the 12 July angry Orangemen and their supporters charged the police lines on the Woodvale Road, triggering almost a week of serious street disorder.

This afternoon the atmosphere could hardly have been more different.

Led by local Orange Order officials and several bands, the crowd marched to the police cordon where a line of marshals separated the protesters from the PSNI.

The demonstration was entirely peaceful.

It lasted less than an hour and concluded with the playing of the British national anthem after which the crowd quickly dispersed.

There are signs thought that this could develop into a lengthy Drumcree style standoff and the protesters are expected back at the same spot next Saturday.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore has encouraged political and community leaders in Belfast to prevent a recurrence of violence this weekend.

The Tánaiste noted the progress that has been made in recent days: "following the successful visit to Northern Ireland of future talks Chair Richard Haass, and the commitment by the Orange Order to engage with that process."

He cautioned, however, "that we cannot wait for the start of talks in the autumn to ease the tensions around interface areas."