Parade goes ahead after city alert

Parade goes ahead after city alert

An Apprentice Boys parade has passed off peacefully in north Belfast following a security alert in the area.

Police say they are still examining a suspicious object which was found on the route of the parade, sparking the alert on the Crumlin Road on Monday morning.

Army bomb experts attended the scene of the alert between the Ballysillan Road and the Ardoyne shop fronts.

The area later reopened and the parade went ahead after the delay.

North Belfast DUP MLA Nelson McCausland said the suspect device was another attempt by dissident republicans to disrupt a "peaceful and law-abiding" Apprentice Boys parade.

"It takes place early in the morning, causes no disruption at all, and yet there's such bigotry and intolerance within republicanism that they simply cannot tolerate members of the Protestant community walking down the Crumlin Road," he said.

"If it turns out that this was indeed a viable device, that is absolutely appalling that anyone would endanger life and limb in that way."

Winston Irvine, from North and West Belfast Parades Forum, said the parade was "very dignified".

He condemned the alert as an "attack on the entire community" and an attempt to "intimidate local people".

"Thankfully the people held their nerve and the band and the lodge proceeded without any hindrance," he added.

Meanwhile, North Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said the alert had achieved nothing.

"It didn't stop the Apprentice Boys parade. It blocked off the road, it stalled everything for a period of time. There were people in The Dales who could have been injured," he said.

Mr Kelly said he was "glad" the parade had passed off peacefully and urged organisers to "talk to residents so we're not sitting here every year having to go through this sort of tension."

Dee Fennel, from the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) said residents remained opposed to the parade.

He said the Apprentice Boys had not engaged with them beforehand. He also condemned the alert.

"The people of Mountainview couldn't get out of their homes, anyone who was trying to get to work was prevented from doing so," he said.

"We're consistent in our approach that any opposition to these parades should be peaceful and we would ask anyone to desist from anything that would raise tensions in the area."

Meanwhile a separate parade past a Catholic Church in Belfast city centre also passed off without incident.

Up to 60 Apprentice Boys and a band marched past St Patrick's Catholic Church on Donegall Street to a single drumbeat, with no music played.

Scenes of disorder broke out near the flashpoint last year after a band was filmed playing an alleged sectarian song while passing the church last July.

Carrick Hill residents protested peacefully on the footpath as the parade passed.

A return parade took place between 6.45pm - 7.15pm.


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