The Parades Commission has bowed to the threat of republican violence by not allowing last year’s Ardoyne Twelfth parade to complete its route this weekend, the Orange Order has claimed.
An application from loyalists for two bands and 140 participants to pass the Ardoyne shops was yesterday refused after a full day of discussions on the matter earlier this week which saw DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson meet the commission.
Unionist representatives said much work had been done on the ground to ensure the parade could take place at a quiet time and pass off peacefully, with the Order claiming it could all be over within six minutes.
The notification said the commission had determined that the impact on community relations would be disproportionate to the significance of the procession passing by the Ardoyne shops.
A Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland spokesman said dialogue ahead of the ruling had been “a genuine and sincere attempt to resolve this longstanding issue”.
But he went on to accuse the commission of “blatantly (ignoring) the concept of shared space in north Belfast”.
Twaddell Protest Camp was set up shortly after the blocking of the parade last July, and has been manned 24 hours a day ever since, with protesters claiming they will remain there until the parade ‘returns home’.
The Order spokeman said this will remain the case.
“Despite this setback, the Orange family and our unionist partners involved in the civil rights camp remain determined to resolve this issue,” he said.
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said unionism had lost out.
“Shared space is denied,” he said. “Identity is diminished. Demonisation is accepted by officialdom.”
NI Conservatives’ co-chair Trevor Ringland warned that disappointment over the ruling should not be allowed to affect wider political progress across the Province.
“It may take longer to work through these issues than it does elsewhere and they may even prove, ultimately, to be insoluble,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that every summer has to be tense, or that the political parties at Stormont have an excuse to exploit the dispute.”
The SDLP’s Alban Maginness welcomed the decision, saying it will relieve tension that had been building in the area over the application.
“Following Saturday, however, it is crucial that the ongoing dialogue between the loyal orders and residents continues,” he added.