North Belfast DUP MLA Brian Kingston: 'Deep disappointment' over actions of Parades Commission

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North Belfast DUP MLA Brian Kingston has voiced "deep disappointment” at the Parades Commission’s decision to ban Orangemen from passing by the Ardoyne shops in north Belfast.

He was speaking after marchers were barred from the area, also known as the Twaddell roundabout, on two occasions in the days ahead.

The first occasion involves three Orange lodges (LOL 647, 1891, and 1932) and one band (Pride of the Ardyone) – totalling 150 people – parading past on their way to Ligoniel as part of a return route at about 6.15pm on the Twelfth.

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The Parades Commission has said these marchers must halt on the Woodvale Road, short of shops, which are seen as an interface between the loyalist-dominated Twaddell/Woodvale area and the nearby republican-dominated Ardoyne.

Brian Kingston pictured taking part in Twelfth celebrations in 2018Brian Kingston pictured taking part in Twelfth celebrations in 2018
Brian Kingston pictured taking part in Twelfth celebrations in 2018

The second occasion involves the same three lodges and the same band to parade – again totalling 150 people – going past the Ardoyne shops at 9am on the 13th on their way to Ligoniel.

Instead of passing the Ardoyne shops, the commission has ordered these marchers to begin their route in a street called Wheatfield Gardens, further up the Crumlin Road and away from any republican-dominated neighbourhoods.

Whilst these restrictions are in place, it should be noted that permission has been given for marchers to go past the Ardyone shops outbound on the morning of the Twelfth.

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Mr Kingston, himself an Orangeman, said that the proposal for the 13th in particular had been a major concession by the order.

“It is extremely disappointing that the Parades Commission has decided not to permit the 13th July morning parade to proceed as requested,” he said.

"This is a significant missed opportunity by the Parades Commission. This was a substantial move and compromise by the Orange Order and should have been accepted.

“I am aware of the deep frustration of those representing the Orange Order at the lack of progress after eight years of a talks process.

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“It is not acceptable to say it’s fine for the Lodges to leave Ballysillan, but not for them to return there.

"Crumlin / Ardoyne Residents’ Association claim that they have no general objection to Loyal Order parades passing the Ardoyne shopfronts.

"A return parade early on the 13th July morning should have been viewed as an acceptable step forward.”

Summing up its conclusions, the commission says it "has cause to believe" that should the parades process the entirety of their notified routes, “there will be an adverse effect on community relations and a potential for public disorder", hence its decision to impose curbs.

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The Twaddell saga dates back to 2013 when three Ligoniel lodges were refused permission to complete their return parade in the area..

What followed was a street stand-off involving a loyalist encampment at the Twaddell roundabout, legions of police, and republicans from the nearby Ardoyne district.

A deal was reached to let the lodges complete their route in 2016 – but this was only meant to buy time to hammer out a bigger blueprint for dealing with parades in north Belfast... something which never actually happened.

Summing up its conclusions, the commission says it "has cause to believe" that should the parades process the entirety of their notified routes, “there will be an adverse effect on community relations and a potential for public disorder", hence its decision to impose curbs.