Twaddell Orange protest camp could go

NewsBy Jamie McDowell
Twaddell Orange protest camp could go

An Orange lodge involved in the camp at Twaddell in North Belfast has suspended its protest, leading to hopes that a proposed agreement between the remaining two lodges and the Crumlin and Ardoyne Resident's Association (CARA) will bring an end to the situation in North Belfast.

The protest began in July 2013, when the Parades Commission came to a determination that the lodges involved could not pass the Ardoyne shops area on their way home on the Twelfth.

The cost to police the controversial camp has run into the millions, but it finally looks like the situation will be resolved as talks between CARA and the Ligoniel and the Earl of Erne lodges are set to resume.

Until the agreement is settled, the protest camp will remain in place.

In a statement, Ballysillan LOL 1981 said: "We are left with no option but to suspend our protest."

The statement came as a result of ongoing talks between the three lodges involved in the protest and local residents groups came to a proposed agreement.

However, Ballysillan LOL 1981 rejected the deal.

Today there are also reports coming in that some protesters have 'locked themselves in' the camp and are singing 'we shall not be moved'. 

Last month the Sunday World broke the story on how the Ballysillan lodge had been snubbed by the other two lodges who had accepted a deal that would allow them to finally pass the Ardoyne shops - but the deal had conditions.

One was that they would not follow the route past the Ardoyne shops again.

The Ballysillan statement went on: "Our lodge this has always been about securing our human rights and we thank all those who have given their time and money.

"The linkage of funding to this deal is of significant concern; this was about human rights not money. 

"CARA's rejection of it in the face of GARC (Greater Ardoyne Residents' Committee) criticism demonstrates their inability to deliver.

"The latest failed initiative took place without our knowledge or participation, in fact GARC knew about it before the Ligoniel lodges.

"The agreement was presented in different ways to the Ligoniel lodges and the Ardoyne residents on the issue of future return parades.

"The secrecy, misrepresentations of the deal and breach of faith by those involved in the failed initiative leave us in a very difficult situation. In the absence of honesty and good faith by others we are left with no option but to suspend our protest."

While the other two lodges are willing to go with the proposed deal, The Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective however, have not welcomed it.

A spokesperson for GARC said: "While residents will be thankful that the hate camp is to go, it is disgraceful that this criminal enterprise was facilitated by Stormont and the PSNI for over three years.

"In their statement Ballysillan LOL 1891 confirm a number of concerns that GARC raised about the Sinn Fein/UVF deal but which were denied by Sinn Fein to residents' faces on doorsteps and at their own public meeting.

"These include the alternative route not being discussed, the linkage between Springfield and Ardoyne 'deals', reward funding for Sinn Fein and UVF linked phantom groups and the planned exclusion of organisations central to this issue. This Orange lodge also recognises that Sinn Fein cannot deliver on an end to residents' protests as GARC will continue our protests.

"We would also guard against celebration. The UVF and Sinn Fein will remain determined to push ahead with their deal, one that GARC shall resist."