North Belfast protest parade peaceful

North Belfast protest parade peaceful

Loyalist demonstrators gathered at police lines in north Belfast on Saturday in support of an Orange Order parade which passed off without incident.

It is the second week in a row a demonstration has been held on the Woodvale Road after a Parades Commission ruling barred three Ligoniel lodges from marching past the Ardoyne shops on their return route on the Twelfth of July.

Each week since, the lodges have applied to the Parades Commission, they say, to be able to complete their Twelfth return journey.

However, on each occasion the parading watchdog has refused the requests.

On Saturday, thousands of Orangemen, bandsmen and supporters once again marched from the Shankill Road to police lines on the Woodvale Road where they were stopped.

There was a smaller police operation in the area for this week's protest.

The Orange Order said they wanted to replicate last Saturday's peaceful protest.

The crowds that gathered were told that this was now a campaign which would continue.

They dispersed shortly before 4pm after an hour-long protest.

Mervyn Gibson, chaplain for the County Grand Lodge of Belfast, said: "This was a peaceful protest and peaceful parade as we had intended."

People came up to make their point and then walked away again.

Mervyn Gibson

"We are looking for two things, for the brethren to get home and for this Parades Commission to be disbanded," he explained.

"And we will try whatever means we can to get that, but through peaceful and political means."

When asked if there would be another parade next Saturday, Rev Gibson said the situation would be reviewed.

He added: "There will be meeting this week again to see how we continue the campaign.

"We'll wait and see what happens, nobody knows what the Parades Commission will do, you can't predict what they are going to do, so we'll wait and see."

Local DUP MP Nigel Dodds, who was knocked unconscious as violence erupted in the area on the Twelfth, attended the parade on Saturday.

A small group of nationalist residents gathered at the Ardoyne roundabout.

Joe Marley, from the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA), said: "The Orange Order need to exercise common sense, engage with us, sit there and let good relations prevail."


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