Twaddell camp may still be in place in another year, says leading voice

Protestors at the Twaddell Avenue protest camp
Protestors at the Twaddell Avenue protest camp

One of the leading faces of the loyalist protest at Twaddell Avenue has not ruled out the possibility that the encampment could still be there in a year’s time.

Gerald Solinas was reacting to the decision of the Parades Commission to repeat its ban on letting three lodges to return “home” up the Crumlin Road on the evening of the Twelfth.

The area, by the Ardoyne shopfronts, is at an interface between loyalist and republican neighbourhoods and the commission’s decision last year sparked serious disorder, followed by the setting up of a camp calling for respect for unionist culture.

After the Parades Commission yesterday repeated its 2013 decision, Mr Solinas – a 39-year-old Orangeman and a representative of the West Belfast UPRG – declared that he was “totally dismayed and disgusted”.

It was, he said. an example of caving in to the threat of republican violence.

Asked what is next for the camp – which had been estimated to have cost nearly £7m in policing by the start of February – he said: “We’ll have to see what our new strategy is. Our political leaders are meeting, so is the Grand Lodge, so we’ll take things from there.”

He said, in the meantime, the camp is set to continue.

Asked if they could rule out still being there in another 12 months, he said: “Anything is possible.”