Restrictions imposed on contentious Twelfth parade

Back view of Orangemen marching
The parade route in north Belfast is one of Northern Ireland’s most contentious [Getty Images]

The Parades Commission has imposed restrictions on an Orange march on the night of 12 July in north Belfast.

It will not be allowed to pass Ardoyne shopfronts.

In its ruling, the commission said the parade, involving about100 people, must stop before it gets near the potential flashpoint.

Two weeks ago, the Orange Order said an agreement which ended violence at the interface had collapsed.

It has been in place since 2016.

As part of it, the Crumlin Ardoyne Residents Association (Cara) accepted five morning parades a year, including on 12 July.

In exchange, the order agreed a "moratorium" on applying for evening return parades.

The deal stated the moratorium would allow space for talks and "if agreement is achieved, the moratorium would be lifted".

But the order accused Cara of "bad-faith dialogue" and applied for a 12 July evening parade.

The route, which crosses a section of Crumlin Road that separates unionist and nationalist communities, has sparked violent protests in the past.

The Twelfth of July is an annual commemoration of King William III's victory over King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

It attracts large crowds at events in Belfast and across Northern Ireland.

What has the Parades Commission said?

In its ruling, the commission stated: "While there are clear and significant difficulties, it is apparent nobody wishes to risk a return to the violence of the past.

"The commission welcomes the expressed intention of the parties to this dispute to continue with negotiations within the framework of the 2016 agreement.

"It appears there is real scope for these negotiations to bear fruit in the form of a durable solution to the extremely difficult issue of return parades past the Ardoyne shopfronts."

It went on: "While it is not for the commission to interpret the 2016 agreement, it does note that the ordinary meaning of the term moratorium connotes a time bound agreement not to do something, rather than a permanent state of affairs."

The commission noted it was "a very positive development" that the order held direct talks with it for the first time.

It has also ruled that an Orange Order march on the morning of 13 July could not pass the Ardoyne shopfronts.