Unionists have reacted angrily to the banning of a Twelfth parade past the Ardoyne shop fronts in north Belfast.
Despite ground-breaking talks between the Orange Order and a nationalist residents group at the weekend, the Parades Commission has taken the unprecedented step of preventing the three Orange lodges passing along a stretch of the Crumlin Road on their way home from the Belfast demonstration.
In a ruling published on Tuesday night, the commission said the morning feeder parade could proceed with a maximum of 100 supporters along that stretch of the Crumlin Road, but the return parade could not walk the 800m section of the road between Woodvale and the Hesketh Road junction.
Nationalist youths attacked police lines with fireworks and petrol bombs following last year’s parade along the route by the three Orange lodges from the Ligoniel area.
Two nationalist residents’ groups from Ardoyne have notified the police of their intention to hold protests against this year’s parade. The Parades Commission has permitted a maximum of 60 Greater Ardoyne Residents’ Collective (GARC) protesters and 150 from the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents’ Association (CARA).
Three DUP representatives from north Belfast, including MP Nigel Dodds, have issued a joint statement slamming the commission’s determination as “illogical and inconsistent”.
Along with MLAs Nelson McCausland and William Humphrey, Mr Dodds said the efforts made by the local Orange lodges to ensure parades have passed off peacefully over the last year have been ignored.
“By contrast, republicans engaged in heavy rioting at Ardoyne last July culminating in a murderous machine gun attack against police officers,” they said.
“At a subsequent parade dissident republicans again fired shots in Ardoyne.
“Yet the Parades Commission has clearly not taken proper and full account of preceding events both last year and this.
“The commission is causing massive damage to community relations and to respect for law and order. This ruling has placed the Ligoniel Orange Lodges in an impossible position.
“They are being denied the right to return home peacefully and with dignity along the main road they have traversed for decades, with priority instead given to dissident republicans who last year attacked the Protestant community at Twaddell Avenue.
“By this determination the commission has chosen to reward intolerance.”
TUV leader Jim Allister described the latest Parades Commission determination as “provocative and perverse”.
He said: “This is a commission determined to humiliate Orangeism, reward republican violence and expunge unionist culture.
“They draw strength from the current political set-up which itself is constructed on the rewarding of terrorism.
“Such suppression of unionist and loyalist culture is the natural compliment to IRA/Sinn Fein rule sustained at Stormont by some who will protest this decision.”
The ruling comes as Chief Constable Matt Baggott revealed that 630 officers from Great Britain will assist the PSNI over the Twelfth.