Loyalists planning stand-off in Ardoyne this summer if restrictions are placed on its parade

Loyalists planning stand-off in Ardoyne this summer if restrictions are placed on its parade

EXCLUSIVE: LOYALISTS have drawn up a contigency plan to send thousands of Orangemen to Ardoyne this summer if restrictions are placed on its parade.

And if the Orange Order leadership doesn’t back them in the proposed Twelth of July stand-off, hundreds are planning to resign in protest.

Belfast Daily understands loyalists are angry over those who were involved in last weekend’s Cardiff talks and the fact that the disbandment of the Parades Commission was not on the agenda.

Loyalist leaders included UDA brigadiers Jackie McDonald and John Bunting along with Winston Irvine of the PUP.

A senior Orange source said loyalists have now decided to take a tougher stance against the Parades Commission.

“The simple fact is this: if the Parades Commission determines a no return through the Ardoyne on the Twelfth or even an early return, plans are in place to bring as many lodges to the Crumlin Road to carry out a stand-off,” the senior Orange source told Belfast Daily.

“This operation alone will cost the PSNI millions of pounds, not the £23,000 they paid to fly 35 people to Cardiff.

“If the Orange Order leadership in Belfast doesn’t back the men, then hundreds and hundreds of brethren will resign in protest.

“They are enraged at the so-called Cardiff agreement being done with people who don’t represent them.

“They are also very very angry at the PSNI being referred to by the DUP as a ‘police service to trust and work with’.”

Last week, it was revealed that the Orange Order was looking into the possibility of a contingency plan for the Twelfth of July parade in north Belfast.

According to the BBC, senior Orangemen had asked Belfast City Council about the availability of Ballysillan Playing Fields as a meeting or dispersal point.

Sources have told the BBC that organisers want to be able to make a snap decision to change the parade venue if necessary.

It would only be used if they were unable to take their normal route, which passes some contentious areas.

The enquiry was submitted to the council by William Mawhinney, the secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast.

In a letter dated 19 March, he wrote: “On behalf of the County Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast, may I make an enquiry as to the availability of Ballysillan Playing Fields and any associated costs on Friday 12th July 2013 from 1pm to 4pm inclusive.”

The request was referred to the council’s Parks and Leisure committee.

During a meeting of the committee last week, a few more details of the Orange Order’s contingency plan emerged.

A council document stated that the order does not intend to use the playing fields “for an event” but was inquiring about the availability for its car park “as a meeting and/or dispersal point for up to 8,000 people, should the need arise, as part of the parade”.

The document said that the Orange Order would provide its own stewards on the day.

Within the council paper it is also noted that Mr Mawhinney has said the order was only enquiring about availability and would confirm their request closer to 12 July.

However, sources within the Orange Order and within loyalism told the BBC that the site at Ballysillan could be used for a Twelfth demonstration for marchers, bandsmen and supporters from north Belfast, if required.

The sources also emphasised that this was a contingency measure and that, at present, the parade organisers still intend to go ahead with their usual Twelfth demonstration, along their normal route.

At last week’s council meeting, it was asked to consider allowing the council’s director of parks and leisure to make the decision about the availability of the playing fields to the Orange Order.

But some nationalist councillors on the Parks and Leisure committee have said they are not happy with that request.

They said it was not a decision for one person but one that committee members should make.

The nationalist councillors said they wanted more information about what exactly the Orange Order was proposing.

The committee is due to discuss the request next month.


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