The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is preparing for some 550 parades to take place on July 12th. 43 of the planned parades have been described as “sensitive,” with the PSNI taking extra precaution to ensure safety.
The Journal reports that for the first time, the annual loyalist return march through the Catholic area of Ardoyne has been banned by the Parades Commission after serious rioting took place in previous years. The Commission made its decision after no agreement was achieved by residents’ group CARA and the Orange Order.
While the Orange Order is permitted to march through Ardoyne on the Crumlin Road on Friday morning, they cannot take the same route back later in the day.
Ardoyne was the site of serious rioting in 2012 as shots were fired and pipe bombs were thrown.
Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly said that the Parades Commission to block the Ardoyne return parade was “sensible.” He added, “A peaceful 12th will give those talks a good foundation in which a local resolution can be found to this parading issue.”
MLA Kelly also said the discussions between the CARA group and the Orange Order “should recommence” to find a resolution.
However, Peter Robinson, DUP leader and Northern Ireland’s First Minister, said the Parades Commission’s decision was “deeply flawed” and “a reward for violence and intolerance in light of events in the area last year.”
In preparation for this year’s marches, the PSNI have called in additional resources from elsewhere in the UK, including those who trained with force for the recent G8 Summit, which was hosted in Fermanagh. The ‘Mutual Aid’ officers will be deployed in less sensitive areas and will be comprised of 30 units and around 630 officers.
The DailyMail reports that PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott denied claims that the unprecedented move was an indication he was concerned about serious disorder in places like Ardoyne, but said the scale of this year's Twelfth event was unique.
The loyalist marches on July 12th are a long tradition held in Northern Ireland. They are meant to commemorate 1690 Battle of the Boyne where Protestant King William III defeated the Catholic King James II along the river Boyne near Drogheda.
As the DailyMail explains, the victory of King William III over King James II created a Protestant ascendancy in Ireland, concentrated in the Ulster region. Tensions between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland still exist today, and often come to a head on July 12th.