Rejection of Ardoyne parade appeal ‘short-sighted and deeply damaging’

Loyalists hold a white line protest in July 2013 at interface between Twaddell Avenue and the Ardoyne shopfronts area
Loyalists hold a white line protest in July 2013 at interface between Twaddell Avenue and the Ardoyne shopfronts area

An appeal by the Orange Order against a decision not to allow them to “complete” their July 12 parade past the Ardoyne area of north Belfast was turned down by the Parades Commission on Thursday morning.

A spokesman for the civil rights camp at nearby Twaddell Avenue, said that they had lodged an appeal late on Wednesday night against the commission’s refusal on Wednesday.

However, the response on Thursday morning was that the parade was still being refused permission to go up the Crumlin Road early on Saturday morning.

A spokeswoman for the commission confirmed that a request for a review was turned down “on the basis that no fresh information was provided”.

A spokesman for the civil rights camp accused the commission of having “buckled under the threat of republican violence”.

He added: “Not only is the decision short-sighted and deeply damaging, it is also outrageous and without any justification whatsoever.

“The anger within the Unionist community is palpable.

“This decision resolves absolutely nothing, the protest remains and law-abiding Orangemen and Protestants are being denied their civil rights.

“For the Parades Commission to exclude Protestant and British heritage from being expressed on a public arterial route after 150 years of tradition is as despicable as it is repressive and undemocratic.”

The camp at Twaddell formed shortly after July 12 last year and has been manned ever since by loyalists who insist they have a right to ‘return home’ via the route they have used for decades.

The commission turned down the original application this week, saying that the impact on community relations would be disproportionate to the significance of the procession passing by the Ardoyne area.

Dialogue between nationalist residents and unionists had been ongoing for months, chaired by the Church of Ireland and Catholic Church.

Responding to some of the comments being made ahead of Saturday’s protest activity, the PSNI’s district commander in north Belfast said policing would be “appropriate and proportionate”.

C/Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw said: “We fully understand that people have a right to assemble or indeed to protest in a peaceful and lawful manner, and we understand the importance of working together with those involved and the wider community to ensure such events take place in a safe environment.”

He said the primary role of police was to uphold the law and relevant determinations, and added: “While planning any policing operation, we actively consider the views of local communities. Where necessary we will put in place a police response to ensure public safety is maintained but will very much be looking to those with influence within the community to assist police in ensuring the day passes off without incident”.