The parades issue is continuing to provoke confrontation and incident, particularly at the Ardyone interface with the loyalist Twaddell Road in Belfast, where loyalists engaged in a protest camp are again planning a major sectarian parade through the city.
It is estimated that five million pounds have now been spent policing the activities associated with the illegal camp at Twaddell Avenue. Loyalists have held almost daily marches at the flashpoint since members of the anti-Catholic Orange Order were banned from passing nationalist homes in nearby Ardoyne in July.
Loyalists have vowed to remain at the camp -- which is illegally occupying public land -- until Orange Order members are allowed to march past a series of Catholic communities which opposed their parade.
An altercation at the interface on New Year’s Day saw a nationalist youth arrested after he allegedly damaged a loyalist banner on the edge of the camp.
Earlier in the week, a group of nationalists emerging from a Christmas party were also accused of vandalising loyalist banners erected in support of the interface protest camp, following a similar altercation.
Loyalists are becoming increasingly territorial in their approach to the parades issues and their protests are understood to be directed towards establishing ‘control’ of Belfast city centre. Similar marches through the city centre were held last September and November. Both broke the law after Parades Commission rulings were ignored by organisers.
Royal Avenue, part of the parade route, was previously the site of major loyalist violence last August as loyalists rioted to prevent a republican anti-internment parade from passing through.
The organisers say next weekend’s parade has been arranged to highlight “PSNI brutality, loyalist prisoners, the flag, civil rights and political policing”.
Elsewhere, a recruitment billboard for the British military in Derry’s Brandywell area has been torn down by local residents.
The large RAF Royal Air Force Reserves recruitment billboard was erected at the junction of Lone Moor Road and Foyle Road in recent days. Members of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement (32CSM) pulled down the billboard - which faced drivers entering the city from County Donegal - yesterday afternoon.
A spokesman for the group, Gary Donnelly, said people living in the Brandywell area were furious that the billboard was erected. “This is a complete insult to the people of the Brandywell. It’s also a disgrace that it should have been put up within yards of the route of the Bloody Sunday march, particularly at this time of year with the anniversary coming up,” Mr Donnelly said.