‘Tour of the North’ rerouted from Ardoyne
‘Tour of the North’ rerouted from Ardoyne

A triumphalist parade by the Protestant Orange Order has again been banned from passing a republican community in north Belfast.

The Parades Commission has ruled that a feeder parade cannot march past the Ardoyne shops during next week’s ‘Tour of the North’, a highly contentious parade that has lead to violent clashes in the past.

The commission said it “has been told that agreement may be not far off” between the Orange Order and local residents which might soon allow the parade to pass the Ardoyne.

The statement was a reference to talks between the loyalist North and West Belfast Parades Forum and a small, officially approved residents group known as Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (Cara).

A second residents organisation, the Greater Ardoyne Residents Committee (GARC), met the Parades Commission for the first time on Thursday. It had previously refused to recognise the body.

The discussions took place within the confines of Holy Cross Church in north Belfast on the tenth anniversary of the infamous loyalist ‘corridor of hate’ campaign there. In 2001, loyalists protesting march restrictions forced Catholic schoolchildren attending the Holy Cross school to run a gauntlet of sectarian abuse, violence and intimidation on their way to and from the school.

The talks on the march issue were described as “frank but cordial”. Among issues discussed was also the annual Twelfth of July parade past the nationalist Ardoyne interface, which in the past two years has also resulted in very serious violence. Last year residents organised a sit-down protest on the Crumlin Road which was forced off the road by the PSNI. Hundreds of rioters later clashed with officers in disturbances that lasted three days.

The GARC delegation was led by north Belfast republican Paul Carson.

“We have in the past refused to take part in talks but on this occasion felt it was important to meet with the newly appointed panel to clarify our position,” he said.

“The current Cara talks with loyalists are not on behalf of ‘all the residents of greater Ardoyne’ as has been claimed, and as yet there has been no community consultation.

“These talks are not going to bring an end to trouble surrounding the march because people simply don’t know what is being discussed or agreed in their name.”

Mr Carson said any attempt to force parades through would be met with “radical peaceful protest”.

* A public meeting was held this week in Rasharkin about an annual sectarian parade by the loyalist ‘Ballymaconnelly Sons of Conquerors’ Flute Band.

In recent years the march has attracted thousands of loyalists to the nationalist village.

Sinn Fein assembly member Daithi McKay said residents had expressed their opposition to the parade at last night’s meeting. “The commission needs to make a strong decision,” he said.

“Unlike other contentious parades in the north there is no dialogue between organisers of the parade and residents.

“To allow a parade to go through without having any dialogue flies in the face of what the commission is all about.”

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© 2011 Irish Republican News