Deal reached to end Twaddell Avenue parade dispute

The protest at Twaddell Avenue. Pacemaker Press

The protest at Twaddell Avenue. Pacemaker Press

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The long-running Twaddell Avenue parade dispute in north Belfast has ended, with an announcement last night (Friday) that a resolution had been found.

A statement released by talks facilitators Rev Harold Good and Jim Roddy said a local agreement had been reached.

It means that an Orange Order parade should go ahead next Saturday along the Crumlin Road past Ardoyne shops - the same route Orangemen were not allowed to use three years ago.

As a consequence, the Twaddell protest will be called off immediately.

The protest has been ongoing since July 2013 and has cost an estimated £20 million to police.

The statement released said: ““We are pleased to announce that a local agreement has been reached to bring an end to the difficulties surrounding parades and protests in the Twaddell/Crumlin Road area,

“The agreement has the full support of the three lodges and the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association.

“The full text of the agreement will be made available to the media tomorrow.”

The dispute began after a Parades Commission determination not to allow a return leg of an Orange parade to pass a section of the Crumlin Road.

Discussions aimed at ending the dispute between the Orange Order and nationalist residents group Cara have previously ended in failure.

In June, a proposed deal to end the dispute collapsed.

The British and Irish governments have welcomed the agreement.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire said: “I commend the representatives of the Orange Order and Cara for their efforts in negotiating a solution.

“This is a clear demonstration that local dialogue can work, and offers up the best chance of resolving disputes like this.”

The Republic of Ireland’s minister for foreign affairs Charlie Flanagan paid tribute “to those in the Orange Order and among local residents for their leadership and courage in achieving this agreement”. He added: “I look forward to its full implementation in good faith and good neighbourliness.”

A Police Federation for Northern Ireland spokesperson said: “This will immediately release the officers deployed in connection with that protest to be utilised in front-line duties in the communities they were extracted from.

“It will also help to take some of the pressure off those front-line officers who, on a daily basis, are struggling to meet demand. We obviously commend all those who played a part in making this resolution possible.”