Fears rise as Belfast parade agreement falters

by / ⠀News / June 21, 2024
"Faltering Parade"

The 2016 accord intended to quell violence related to the Orange Order march in Ardoyne, north Belfast, has faltered. This has incited fear amongst the Ardoyne community as preparations are underway for another march slated to pass the Ardoyne stores on July 12. The past echoes of sectarian violence surrounding the march have begun to reawaken.

A local nationalist residents’ group has scheduled a protest event in response. The Parades Commission will determine the course of the matter within a fortnight as police maintain a careful watch over the evolving situation.

The Ligoniel Loyal Order intends to hold a march with approximately 100 participants and awaits approval from official authorities. An equivalent number of participants are expected at a counter-protest organized by the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA), which is also pending approval. The concurrent events hint towards a potential clash of interests, raising concerns about public safety and necessitating prudent handling by authorities.

The 2016 agreement was designed to ease tension around Northern Ireland’s heated parade situations.

Belfast parade’s faltering agreement stirs fear.

As part of the agreement, CARA pledged not to hinder early morning parades, and lodges reciprocated by voluntarily suspending evening return parades. This admirable exchange was designed to promote peace and understanding, but the ongoing discord threatens its legacy.

Following bids last year, the agreement to conduct parades past the Ardoyne shops deteriorated. The Orange Order’s recent activity signals the termination of the 2016 agreement, holding CARA’s assumed “bad faith” accountable for this disintegration.

The original conflict arose in 2014 when the Parades Commission barred the return parade from passing a segment of the Crumlin Road. The predicament escalated in 2023 following a controversial parade application withdrawal from the Ballysillan Lodge. The agreement officially collapsed on June 19, 2024, when the Orange Order persisted in trying to obtain approval for parades passing the Ardoyne shops.

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Ardoyne residents resisted this move, which ignited a series of protests and counter-protests. The discord turned violent on August 5, 2024, leading to a state of emergency and exposing the deep-rooted sectarian issues in Northern Ireland.

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