Northern Ireland

Orange Order leaders visit Twaddell camp in show of solidarity

Grand Secretary of the Orange Order, Drew Nelson, said people had nothing to fear from the protests
Image caption Grand Secretary of the Orange Order, Drew Nelson, said people had nothing to fear from the protests

Leaders of the Orange Order, including its grand master, have paraded to the Twaddell Avenue protest camp in Belfast in a show of solidarity with the Ligoneil lodges.

Orangemen set up the camp after the return leg of their parade was barred from passing the Ardoyne shops last July.

Tensions have risen with this year's return leg also being restricted.

The order said people had nothing to fear from Orange protests.

Grand Secretary of the Orange Order, Drew Nelson, said: "We will be organising protests, make no mistake about it, because there is an issue here that needs to be addressed, but those protests will be peaceful.

"They will be lawful and they will be passive and people should in no way have any type of apprehension about what will happen, but at the end of the day, there's a principle here and when democracy has been tarnished, if not undermined by the decisions of this Parades Commission, and people are entitled to protest against that."

Last week, the Parades Commission once again ruled that Orangemen from the Ligoneil lodges could not make the return part of their parade along part of the Crumlin Road.

Several nights of rioting took place after the parade was stopped from returning along the road last year, with scores of police officers injured.

The road separates unionist and nationalist communities.

In response, the DUP and Ulster Unionists have pulled out of talks on the flags, parades and the past.

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Media captionThe parade was also stopped from walking along part of the Crumlin Road last summer

The Orange Order described the Parades Commission decision as "preposterous".

The commission ruled that the outward leg of the parade on 12 July could proceed along the road.

However, it said that only hymn music could be played by bands.

Loyalists have maintained a continuous presence at a protest camp at the Woodvale/Ardoyne interface at Twaddell Avenue since last July.

A recent application to complete last year's march was also turned down by the commission.

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