Orange leader says Ardoyne parade deal will be honoured

Spencer Beattie on a visit to the Twaddell protest camp last year
Spencer Beattie on a visit to the Twaddell protest camp last year

Ligoniel Orange lodges in Belfast have honoured local agreements for their Twelfth demonstration on Wednesday and will not parade back along the Crumlin Road in the evening.

The traditional parade route, which includes a stretch of the Crumlin Road past the Ardoyne shop fronts, had been the focus of nationalist protests and violent confrontations before a “moratorium” on holding the return leg was agreed last year.

However, the Ligoniel lodges were able to complete their Twelfth of July homeward journey on October 1, 2016 – for the first time in four years.

As a result of the 2016 deal with Ardoyne residents group Cara (Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association), the loyalist protest camp at nearby Twaddell Avenue was dismantled.

Spencer Beattie, Belfast’s deputy county grand master, said the morning parade of four bands and accompanying lodges will make its way from Ligoniel towards the city centre at 8am.

“These are the normal lodges that come down the road on the Twelfth. We haven’t applied for a return parade. Part of the agreement was that there would be a moratorium on a return parade until an agreement has been reached,” he said.

As part of the deal, Cara has withdrawn its protest against the morning parade.

Following last year’s ground-breaking agreement, Mr Beattie said it “did not come easy” but was “founded on mutual tolerance and respect,” while Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said: “With a moratorium agreed on evening parades, communities can move into further dialogue and discussions aimed at improving relations in the area without the issue of contentious parades hanging over every conversation.”