A senior Orangeman yesterday vowed that the nightly protests in Twadell Avenue “are no Drumcree” and will remain in place until “lodges and bands once again complete their Twelfth parade”.
Belfast County Grand Master, George Chittick, 70, spoke out at a press facility in the Twadell Avenue ‘Civil Rights Camp’ which has been in place for almost two months and is supported by the main unionist parties and loyal orders – and is manned 24 hours a day.
Calls were yesterday also made for the Parades Commission – who ruled that Orangemen could not return past the Ardoyne shop fronts on July 12 – to be removed.
Mr Chittick said he attended the nightly protests “for civil and religious liberty”.
“No man has the right to tell me what way to go to church, what way to come home from church or what I wear when I go to church. No man and not even the government.”
When asked about how long he expected the protest to continue for, he said: “I don’t know that, but let me tell you this – it will happen and we are not going away.
“This is not the same as Drumcree. We are permanent here.”
The Orangeman of more than 50 years said the Parades Commission decision not to allow Orangemen “to our hearth and home” in Ardoyne “hurt the community very badly”.
“They have had enough,” he said. “The message I want to send out today is to let my men home and let them live in peace.
“Some day it is going to happen. Some one is going to say it is wrong. And if the police are so concerned about the cost of the protests then send the bill to the Parades Commission. They started the problem. Let them use their budget.”
One of the ‘Civil Rights Camp’ facilitators, Tina Patrick, 58, said keeping the caravan on site manned all the time “has not been a problem as people are keen to help out”.
She questioned the “common sense” behind the decision “not to allow the parade up the road”.
“I think when you look at the cost of the policing of the protests and the Saturday parades against what it would cost to put that parade up the road, you have to ask yourself at what level are these decisions truly being made.”
Local DUP councillor Lee Reynolds said the nightly protests and ‘human rights camp’ have been successful because “they want to fight for what they believe in and to get the lodges and bands home and the Parades Commission gone”.
He added: “People are supportive and interested. There is a strength of feeling that has not been recognised and that was part of the problem when the decision was taken.
“They did not realise the strength of feeling around this.
“They certainly should know better now than they did before the Twelfth of July.”