Agreement reached to end 2013 protest over parades in north Belfast

A protest 'camp' which was set up has cost some €24.2m to police

Agreement reached to end 2013 protest over parades in north Belfast

Police move into position as residents of the Ardoyne area of Belfast clash with the Police Service of Northen Ireland (PSNI) | Image:

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan has welcomed an agreement on parades in north Belfast.

The deal is on parading and associated protests in the Crumlin Road and Twaddell areas of the city.

The agreement will bring an end to a loyalist protest, which began in July 2013, following a ruling by the Parades Commission which did not allow a return parade by three Orange Lodges past the Ardoyne shops interface.

The protest involved the establishment of a permanent camp on the junction of Twaddell Avenue and Crumlin Road - and nightly protest marches to the camp.

A nightly police presence has been required at the camp, which cost more than stg£21m (€24.2m) over three years.

There have also been a number of attacks by dissident elements on the police.

A number of attempts have been made since 2013 to mediate a resolution - including by church leaders - without success.

This current process, led by figures in the Orange Order and local community leaders, was conducted in private.

It has been agreed that the Orange Order can finish its 2013 parade with a parade past Ardoyne shops and that thereafter there would be no return parades without local agreement.

A community forum will also be established to build better relations with all those who share this part of the Crumlin Road.

Minister Flanagan said: "I welcome today's announcement that a way forward has been found to resolve the difficulties that surround parades and associated protests in the Crumlin Road and Twaddell area of North Belfast.

"Expressions of place and identity can be very emotive and challenging. I commend the spirit of cooperation and mutual respect that has allowed a common understanding to be developed on how these parades can be managed.

“I encourage the wider community to give this initiative its full support. I acknowledge the hard work in a spirit of genuine engagement and reconciliation by all those who were party to achieving this new approach.

"I wish to pay tribute to those in the Orange Order and among local residents for their leadership and courage in achieving this agreement. I look forward to its full implementation in good faith and good neighbourliness."