Orange lodges agree to talk to nationalist residents in Ardoyne (News Letter)

The Orange Order in Belfast has supported the decision of three lodges to speak to nationalist residents in Ardoyne ahead of the July 12 parade next week.

The move comes this morning following a call from unionist residents in Twaddell and Woodvale for brethren to speak to nationalist residents.

In a statement this morning the County Grand Lodge of Belfast said that three lodges from Ligoniel which walk past the Ardoyne shop fronts have agreed to speak to nationalist residents.

“The community of Twaddell and Woodvale has appealed to the local lodges involved in parading along the Crumlin Road on the Twelfth morning and evening to engage in direct talks with a local Nationalist residents group. In response to this request and after numerous meetings; the three lodges concerned have agreed along with the local community to enter into direct talks with the Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents Association,” the statement said.

“The County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast respects and supports their Ligoniel lodges in this decision. This initiative builds on the success of the Comprehensive Template and is further evidence that the Orange family is committed to working towards peaceful resolutions.”

First Minister Peter Robinson and the UUP have welcomed the move.

Ardoyne has seen violence in previous years, last Twelfth youths attacked police in Brompton Park for up to five hours with fireworks and petrol bomb after the parade had passed.

Earlier residents of the unionist Twaddell Avenue and Woodvale area released a statement in which they said they warmly welcomed the Orange Order’s comprehensive template on parading.

They said they were encouraged by the recent peaceful parades in north Belfast, including the Whiterock parade last weekend and the Tour of the North parade the week before.

The group said: “In order to build on the positive environment created over the last number of weeks and to encourage respect for everyone in this area of north Belfast,” they said.

“We therefore (Twaddell & Woodvale Residents Association), who fully support the loyal orders and bands, call on the three local Orange lodges to engage directly with Crumlin & Ardoyne Residents Association ahead of the 12th July.”

Speaking on the BBC’s Stephen Nolan Show this morning, chairman of the Twaddell and Woodvale Residents Association Alfie McCrory said they would encourage the Order Orange to speak to the Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA).

Mr McCrory also revealed that at Christmas time a cross community carol service attended by a large number of people had taken place on the Ardoyne roundabout. He emphasised that for most of the year the area was peaceful, but that tensions rose each July.

First Minister Peter Robinson said he “strongly supports the positive response by the local lodges”.

“The Orange Institution have taken a number of positive steps in order to make progress in resolving problems which exist around parades in Northern Ireland.

“The call by the community of Twaddell and Woodvale was another attempt to make progress and I strongly support the positive response by the local lodges and the support given by the County Grand Lodge of Belfast.

“We all want to see a peaceful resolution to parading issues here and our hope is that the significance of the positive engagement will be matched by a sensible Parades Commission decision.”

Ulster Unionist councillor Mark Cosgrove said “very significant work” has been undertaken this year within the entire parading community.

“I welcome the latest piece of leadership being shown by the Orange Order in trying to ensure that the three lodges concerned can walk home on the Twelfth in a respectful and dignified manner,” he said.

“I look forward to a positive response from CARA to this initiative.

“All in positions of influence should recognise the significance of this move and I am sure the entire community will hope for a successful outcome which will facilitate a peaceful Twelfth day.”

PUP representative Winston Irvine also warmly welcomed this morning’s developments.

“The Progressive Unionist Party fully endorses and welcomes the call by Twaddell and Woodvale Residents Association and we pay tribute to the residents for the courage, vision and leadership in making the call,” he said.

“We hope that the positive environment created by people working behind the scenes, such as the North and West Belfast Parades and Cultural Forum, along with people from the nationalist community, that has ensured that we have had a peaceful number of parades in Belfast can be built upon.”

“We recognise and acknowledge the significance of this decision by the Orange Order which is a major step, demonstrating respect for others. We commend their leadership and foresight and this endeavour could have far reaching and positive implications across Northern Ireland regarding parades and protests.”

And SDLP North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness said this morning represents a “major break through”.

“This development represents a major breakthrough and I hope that through dialogue and mutual respect we may be able to find a long term solution to the parading issue in this part of north Belfast,” he said.

“Whatever determination the parades commission make in respect of upcoming parades over the summer must be upheld. Dialogue is also crucial in ensuring that all the people of North Belfast see a peaceful summer.”


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