Orange Order postpones parade through Belfast city centre

The parade was prevented from marching past Ardoyne shops in July The parade was prevented from marching past Ardoyne shops in July

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Orangemen in Belfast have called off a parade due to take place in the city centre on Saturday.

The Orange Order said the decision was taken after listening to the views of city centre traders and the community.

Two bands and about 200 participants had been due to march on one of the busiest days for Christmas shopping.

Belfast city centre manager Andrew Irvine said retailers had "warmly welcomed" the news, and were anticipating a "buoyant trading day".

The march had been planned to show support for Ligoniel Orangemen over the re-routing of their 12th July parade.

The order's Sandy Row District Loyal Orange Lodge No 5 said it was postponing the.0 parade until early next year, "as an act of goodwill in this Christmas season".

It said "the heightened level of security due to republican terrorism" was also a factor in its decision.

'Encouraging'

Paul McMahon from Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce said traders were delighted at the announcement

SDLP North Belfast assembly member Alban Maginness said it was "the sensible thing to do", and "it would be churlish not to welcome it".

"The fact that they've considered the views of business people in the city is encouraging," he added.

The DUP deputy lord mayor of Belfast, Christopher Stalford, said it was a "positive step" that "reflects the desire of Orangemen to see their city grow, thrive and expand".

"It demonstrates that the Orange institution in Sandy Row, and in Belfast more generally, has shown a degree of flexibility and leadership that has been sadly lacking from those who oppose their right to parade, and from the Parades Commission," he added.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said it was "progressive of the Orange Order, that they not only consulted with traders, but reacted positively to their message".

"I understand this is a postponement rather than a cancellation, and while I support the motivation, which is to support the Ligoniel lodges, I will continue to question the use of the tactic of street protest, which has no record of success in Northern Ireland in terms of bringing about political change," he added.

The Ligoniel lodges were prevented from parading past the Ardoyne shops interface on the homeward leg of their Twelfth of July demonstration.

Several nights of rioting took place after the march was stopped.

Since then a loyalist protest camp has been in place at the Twaddell Avenue in support of the campaign to complete the parade.

The order said it "would continue to encourage our members and friends to support the ongoing protest and parades at Camp Twaddell and the Woodvale Road".

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