Guarded welcome on street for Ardoyne/Twaddell parade deal
Residents on both sides of the Ardoyne/Twaddell interface have cautiously welcomed the deal the end the long-running north Belfast parading dispute.
Negotiations involving the Orange Order and an Ardoyne residents group led to an agreement that three local Orange lodges will be able to complete the homeward leg of their Twelfth of July parade along the Crumlin Road.
Successive Parades Commission determinations have prevented the Ligoniel lodges from passing the Ardoyne shop fronts, and there have been violent clashes in the area involving nationalist protestors, loyalists and police.
However, a deal was announced on Friday which will allow a one-off parade this Saturday – unopposed by the Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA) – in return for an assurance the lodges will not to apply for any more evening parades until a wider agreement on parading is reached.
The Orange Order has now submitted its application for the October 1 parade to the Parades Commission. If the proposal is rubber-stamped by the commission as expected, the loyalist protest camp at Twaddell Avenue will be dismantled as part of the deal. The camp was deserted on Monday afternoon with the gate closed and padlocked.
One Twaddell resident, aged in his 40s, living just yards from the camp said he was glad an agreement had been reached, but believes the area has been more peaceful because of the camp.
“Most people are happy at the parade getting up the road but we’ll see what happens on the day. Anything can happen but hopefully there will be no bother,” he said.
“The camp being there has stopped young ones from across the road [in Ardoyne] running over and attacking houses, so I’ll be sorry to see it go.”
Another male resident of Twaddell Avenue, aged in his 20s, said: “Most people I know don’t care one way or the other. I suppose it’s good if there’s going to be no trouble but I don’t keep up to date will all that stuff.”
On the Ardoyne side of the divide, one woman in her 50s said she had never objected to the Orange parades although many of her neighbours did.
“I don’t care about parades passing my house, but my house has been attacked over the years so I don’t like the trouble that flares up from time to time. I just want to live in peace so I hope Saturday goes okay.”
She added: “I don’t sense any trouble kicking off on Saturday, and most of my neighbours are happy enough with what’s happened.”
The proprietor of a shop on the nationalist side of interface said he would only believe the parade agreement was a success when it passes off peacefully.
“A week is a long time around here,” he said.
“I’m a bit nervous about what will happen in the meantime. I wish [both sides] well but I’ve heard people on the radio earlier and just thought everyone is getting a bit too carried away too soon.
“I still don’t think we’ve heard the end of this one just yet,” he added.
The Twaddell and Woodvale Residents’ Association vice chairman Alfie McCrory said he “strongly welcomed” news that agreement has been reached.
“I would like to commend the dedication of all those who have shown their support to the Ligoniel brethren over the past number of years.
“I would also like to commend those who have been involved in bringing the North Belfast Parades & Protests Agreement about,” he said.
“We fully endorse and support this agreement as one that, given the ongoing circumstances, is best for everyone. This is a major announcement for the entire community, and is hopefully one that will bring some normality back to the area and enable people to get on with their lives.”
Mr McCrory added: “However, we need to remember that issues surrounding parading and protests are only symptoms of a wider problem and that a much needed plan is required to address these underlying causes.”
The nationalist GARC (Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective) group has rejected the plan for Saturday’s parade as a “shady deal”.
Although the brokered arrangement has been widely praised as a breakthrough in improving community relations, one woman who lives on the Woodvale Road close to the interface expressed her anger.
She said it was a “disgrace” that the Orange Order were being told “when and where” they could parade.
“We will keep on fighting. The [Ardoyne residents] are getting their way far too much. I used to live on the Ardoyne Road years ago and there was never a word about the parades going down until recently,” she said.
The resident, who did not wish to be named, told the News Letter: “I have to be penned into my house by the police every time there’s a parade because [the Ardoyne residents} don’t agree it. We have rights too and it’s about time we stood up for them instead of just backing down again.”