Tensions high as Orange Order parade progresses through north Belfast

Controversial march passes off peacefully after landmark agreement with residents

belfast

Damien Fennell (centre) of the Greater Ardoyne Residents' Collective appeals for calm as an Orange Order parade passes along Belfast's Crumlin Road | Photo: PA Images

A controversial Orange Order parade in north Belfast has passed off peacefully this morning.

The Parades Commission granted the group permission last week to march through the nationalist Ardoyne area.

It came after a landmark agreement between the Orange Orange and the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents' Association (CARA), mediated by Rev Harold Good and businessman Jim Roddy

The deal brought an end to a protracted dispute over the 2013 ban on marching Orangemen returning along a contested stretch of Crumlin Road.

A so-called protest camp set up by loyalists on the nearby Twaddell Avenue is expected to be dismantled this weekend as part of the accord.

PSNI officers pull out of the area after the passing of the parade | Photo: PA Images

Last week's ruling allowed members of three lodges to finish their parade along the Ardoyne shops interface that had been a flashpoint for clashes in the past.

A counter-protest by the Greater Ardoyne Residents’ Collective, which opposes the decision, was confined to a small stretch of the road.

The Parades Commission also restricted the hardline demonstration to no more than 60 people.

PSNI assistant chief constable Stephen Martin welcomed what he called the "positive dialogue" leading up to today’s event.

He said he hoped the agreement would allow resources previously allocated to policing nightly protest marches to the Twaddell camp to be directed elsewhere.

Loyalists cheer as the parade progresses along the Crumlin Road | Photo: PA Images