The Orange Order in Belfast has insisted a long-running protest at the site of the city’s bitterest parading flashpoint will continue, despite one group of Orangemen suspending their participation.
The County Grand Lodge of Belfast’s statement came after one of three Orange lodges at the centre of the Ardoyne marching wrangle in north Belfast announced it would no longer take part in the ongoing three-year long demonstration against a decision to stop a parade passing a disputed stretch of road.
A loyalist protest camp was set up at the volatile community interface in 2013 when the Parades Commission - a government-appointed adjudication panel for controversial marches - prevented Orangemen belonging to three Orange lodges passing the nationalist Ardoyne along the Crumlin Road as they returned from traditional Twelfth of July commemorations.
Nightly protests have been held in the nearby unionist Woodvale/Twaddell area ever since, with a protest parade every Saturday.
The policing operation at the site has cost in excess of £20 million over the last three years.
A deal to resolve the dispute collapsed earlier this summer when one of the three lodges - Ballysillan Loyal Orange Lodge (LOL) 1891- refused to back the proposed resolution. With the Twelfth of July subsequently passing off without major incident, hopes remain that negotiations can be resurrected and a solution found.
However, the breakdown of the agreement has apparently created tensions between the Ballysillan lodge and the other two Orange lodges, both of which supported the deal.
Ballysillan announced on Friday that it was suspending its participation in the protests. Its members took part in a final protest parade on Saturday.
In response, the city’s county grand lodge, which represents all the Belfast lodges, made clear the wider protest would continue.
“The County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast notes the public comments of Ballysillan LOL 1891 and respects their decision to suspend their participation in any further protests regarding securing a homeward parade along the Crumlin Road,” said a spokesman.
“However, the protest will continue until a resolution is found. There will be no further public comment by the Orange Institution on this development.”