Plans have been advanced to allow a controversial parade by the anti-Catholic Orange Order march through a nationalist area of north Belfast in return for loyalists ending a campaign of intimidation at a sectarian interface.
A nationalist residents group has said it will oppose a deal to allow the parade through a north Belfast interface. A spokesman for Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) spoke out after it emerged that tentative agreement was reached between Orangemen and a second residents’ group, Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents’ Association (CARA).
It is understood the deal will allow members of three Orange lodges and accompanying bands to pass nationalist homes in Ardoyne next Friday, if given the go-ahead by the Parades Commission.
In return loyalists will end an intimidatory presence set up on waste ground at nearby Twaddell since 2013, when the Parades Commission banned Orangemen from passing the interface while making their way back from the main Twelfth parade in July.
Serious violence broke out at that time, and since then loyalists have held almost nightly protest parades in the area and maintained a campsite.
Tensions have been escalating in Belfast as the marching season has progressed, with the appearance of sectarian graffiti in both communities.
“This supposed deal has been agreed without any consultation with local residents whatsoever and it will be opposed,” a spokesperson for GARC said. They said local people have endured “three years of harassment via nightly parading, attacks and the illegal hate camp facilitated for three years by an executive who own the land and PSNI who refuse to move them”.
Nationalist residents are to meet in the coming days to discuss the deal. “Our response will be peaceful, radical and a mobilisation of people to oppose this decision,” GARC said. “We will also be calling on people from around the country to support local residents.”
The spokesperson said no local consultation had taken place. “CARA told members of the local community they would not be engaging with the Orange Order behind the scenes and if they did they would consult with the local community and they failed to do that,” he said.
It is also being claimed that part of the deal on the Ardoyne parade may involve the controversial Whiterock parade which is due to take place later today [Saturday].
In a ruling earlier this week, the Parades Commission told the Orange Order it is not allowed to parade through the gate at Workman Avenue, which is close to the nationalist Springfield Road. In recent years the commission has allowed a small group of Orangemen to march through the permanently closed gate. The two groups usually rejoin at the entrance of the site from where they continue their march. A planned protest by nationalist residents over the parade has also been withdrawn.