A STAND-OFF protest will take place in north Belfast on Friday evening after a returning Orange Order parade was banned.
Belfast Daily understands that hundreds of loyalists and Orangemen from across Belfast may gather in north Belfast on the Twelfth evening in support of banned local lodges and bandsmen.
A decision to hold a Drumcree-style stand-off protest in north Belfast was agreed at a meeting in Clifton Street Orange Hall on Wednesday evening.
It followed a decision by the Parades Commission to ban Ligoniel Orangemen and bandsmen walking up past the Ardoyne shops on the Twelfth evening.
Those present included community groups, the Orange Order, politicians, members of the UVF and UDA along with political representatives in the PUP and UPRG.
A source told Belfast Daily: “Bascially, it was agreed that there will be a stand off at the top of the Crumlin Road at Woodvale.
“It was made clear to those present that this was to be a peaceful protest and it will go on as long as it takes.
“They also discussed the policing operation. They realise the police will have problems with officers dressed all day in riot gear and helmets. They will be wilting under the heat.
“People in east Belfast have already expressed their support. Other areas are expected to follow.
“There will be protests across the province or else people will come to north Belfast and stand with the Ligoniel lodges and bandsmen until they are allowed to walk the way they came.
“If that doesn’t happen, then the police are in for the long haul. Matt Baggott should have got 6,300 extra police not 630.
“He is going to need every last one of them because this protest is going to go on and on.”
As Belfast Daily first revealed this week, the PSNI has already called in 630 UK officers to act in support of the PSNI during the marching season.
Belfast Daily revealed last month that the bandsmen and Orange Order members planned to defy the Parades Commission if it banned their homeward parade and push through with a parade.
“That is still the case. There was a lot of anger expressed at the meeting in Clifton Street Hall on Wednesday night.
“A lot of people felt let down by these talks that didn’t deliver anything at all.”
On Thursday lunchtime, the Orange Order confirmed it is to stage a series of protests over the Parades Commission ruling on the Ardoyne return parade.
The Orange Order, which has accused the Parades Commission of creating crisis, says that it is “their earnest intention” that the demonstrations will be peaceful.
“What we’ve said today is that the Twelfth parade will not be over till all the brethren, bandsmen and supporters are home,” said Orange Order chaplain Rev Mervyn Gibson.
The details were given at a media conference on Thursday morning, which had been called by the Order to mark Orangefest.
Friday morning’s parade is set to take place in the Ardoyne area with no music or drumbeats and with only 100 supporters allowed to accompany the lodges and bands.
On their evening return parade, Orangemen and bandsmen will be stopped at the junction of Woodvale Road and Woodvale Parade.
“Three Lodges have been banned from going along the Crumlin Road. We’re saying that, until they get home, the rest of the Twelfth day isn’t over for everyone else.
“There will be further protests,” Rev Gibson said.
“We’re not going into detail of what those are. But certainly, anything that takes place, we want it to be peaceful.
“It’s not inevitable that there’ll be violence and we’ve protested before where there’s been no violence and we hope that’s the case again.”
Orange Order Deputy County Grand Master for Belfast, Spencer Beattie, said it would no longer tolerate the “vindictiveness of the Parades Commission”.
He said the order asked that the commission “is no longer recognised, acknowledged or engaged with by any member of the unionist community.”
“It is a determination that will halt progress towards a shared future and will set back community relations,” he added.
“You cannot have a shared city when Protestants are excluded from two of the main arterial routes into Belfast; you cannot have a shared future where Christian music is banned from our streets.
“Belfast is not a city of equals when the Parades Commission, at the behest of nationalists, discriminates and demonises the unionist community.”
Mr Beattie said the Parades Commission’s decision on the order’s feeder parade past Ardoyne shops showed that “violence pays”.
He said he looked forward to actions “planned by our unionist politicians and parties that will show – no longer will our British culture be attacked with impunity”.
“The Protestant unionist loyalist community has had enough – the rot stops now,” he added.