Less than 24 hours to go before a controversial Orange Order parade through Ardoyne, fears are growing that the Twelfth night could again descend into violence as the Order insists on marching past nationalist homes.
The week, which has seen sectarian violence spread across North Belfast with sectarian attacks against homes and cars in nationalist areas as far out as Glengormley and Bawnmore, has already been wracked with tensions.
On Monday night loyalists held protests on the interface near the Ardoyne roundabout against the Parades Commission’s ruling that the lodges had to be past Ardoyne on their return leg from the field by 4pm.
Last night (Tuesday) loyalists had again congregated in gangs on the North Belfast interface having used social networking sites to round up support.
Unionist politicians today (Wednesday) upped the ante when they said it was “impossible” for the lodges to adhere to the Parades Commission breaches. Their comments come as the North Belfast News reveals that neither the PSNI nor the
Public Prosecution Service have, or are planning to take action over breaches at last year’s parades.
The Parades Commission too has come in for harsh criticism from all sides. Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said their 4pm ruling has just served to anger all sides and the parade should have been rerouted. He also criticised a protest organised by the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective which he claimed would make a bad situation worse.
Nationalist residents who bore the brunt of the violence fuelled by the parades in recent years, and who this week were erecting grilles and boards to try and protect heir property added their voices to calls for the Orange Order parade to be banned.
Meanwhile the chairman of the Crumlin and Ardoyne Residents Association (CARA) has urged the PSNI to make sure the Parades Commission’s rulings are adhered to during tomorrow’s Orange Order parade. Liam McCafferty said if the 4pm deadline was broken then the PSNI should refuse to let the parade through.