Three years of nightly loyalist disturbances in north Belfast appear to be at an end after a group of Orangemen said they have suspended their attempts to march into the republican Ardoyne area.
In a statement issued last night, the Ballysillan Orange Lodge said “we are left with no option but to suspend our protest”.
Their march to police lines at Twaddell Avenue in North Belfast started after three lodges were blocked from the return leg of their July 12 parade in 2013. Their insistence on continuing their attempts to march through Ardoyne developed into a permanent loyalist camp at the site and a policing bill running into tens of millions of pounds.
The sectarian protest camp was controversially facilitated on public property next to the Crumlin Road roundabout, but its days appear numbered now the nightly protest parades are to end.
A recent bid to find a solution to the parading impasse failed to find an agreement. The other two lodges at the centre of the dispute had stood back from the nightly protests since the failed talks.
In their statement, Ballysillan LOL 1981 said they have “taken the weeks since the latest failed initiative for the Crumlin Road impasse to consider its position and the future of the protest”.
They added: “For our Lodge this has been always been about securing our human rights and we thank all those who have given their time and money.
“The latest failed initiative took place without our knowledge or participation, in fact GARC [Greater Ardoyne Residents Coalition] knew about it before the Ligoniel Lodges,” they said.
“The secrecy, misrepresentations of the deal and breach of faith by those involved in the failed initiative leave us in a very difficult situation. In the absence of honesty and good faith by others we are left with no option but to suspend our protest.”
However, they said they will not “abandon our aim of a return evening parade and will continue to apply for that and no one is empowered to negotiate on our behalf about our future applications”.
In an internet post, GARC warned against celebration, and said some were determined to force an evening parade through the Ardoyne area. They added that “while residents will be thankful that the hate camp is to go, it is disgraceful that this criminal enterprise was facilitated by Stormont and the PSNI for over three years.”